Thursday, March 31, 2005

One tall latte and an isolated queen pawn

A local club's homeless saga has a happy ending.
The Lexington Club meets every Friday, from 7 to 9 p.m., except when the Lexington Public Schools do not have classes. Beginning Friday, April 1, the new location for the club meetings is Starbucks at 60 Bedford St....
starbucks cups
There is no cost to attend. In lieu of paying dues, the management of the club asks that players buy at least one item during the course of the evening.
Read "Chess club moves to new location" from the Lexington Minuteman.

Missing Pieces

Do you have an incomplete, broken set? Don't despair; become an artist.

Chess Club?

Most chess clubs are more than happy to expand their membership, but not this one.

Chess Poetry III

Here's an excerpt from the poem "A Game of Chess" -- rather thematic for the assembled La Mazians:
I'm not a winner in this strange game
but a true player I've yet to meet,
one, whose gambits have a purpose,
whose sacrifices can break my shield.

I'm not a knight, as you can see;
no shining armor in which to hide,
no windmills worth fighting against,
and worse of all, no Dulcinea....

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Speelman weighs in...

...on as sport - from "Chess: 'It's as bad as a few rounds in a boxing ring'" in The Independent:
Chess has the status of a sport in many of the individual member countries. This may seem odd, but a game may last six or seven hours, during which the levels of stress on the body are considerable. Your heartbeat remains high throughout and the effect has been compared to several rounds of boxing. When I played my second World Championship Candidates match with Nigel Short in London in 1991 (he won), he lost more than half a stone in little more than a week.
Meanwhile the debate rages on in England:
[Chess'] secondary status as a mere pastime is particularly rankling in the wake of Sport England's decision last week to recognise darts as a sport - a pursuit which, despite a recent ban on big-match drinking, is synonymous in the popular imagination with cigarettes and beer guts.

However, the British Chess Federation (BCF), which represents Britain's 60,000 regular tournament players, is now set to play its killer move. It is petitioning to return chess to its rightful status as a sport.... And according to Roy Lawrence, marketing director of the BCF, his argument was readily accepted by the ancient Greeks who included much less demanding "intellectual sports" such as poetry reading in the original Olympics.
Read the rest of "A sporting gambit by the chess players who say they are athletes" also from The Independent.

Sidebar Housekeeping

I've made a number of changes to the sidebar links and the listings of other chess blogs. Here is a summary:

Removed From The Sidebar

Rakshasas - King Patzer was first declared missing by CelticDeath. Later he posted that Rakshasas' blog was 404. In fact, it does appear to be gone for good. While he was here, Rak was both an active poster and commenter in the chess blogosphere. I'm sure he will be missed.

Blue Rook joins a couple other Knights who apparently lost their way early in the journey. I have a somewhat flexible rule that suggests a blog which goes without a post for 30 days is declared inactive (and that's where I have now listed him under other chess blogs). Desperate Measures is less than a week away from a similar fate. Let's hope he isn't lost also.

Jose, Jose... what a controversial figure you have become. I expressed concerns to Don right at the beginning of Jose Ribeiro's knighthood. Since then, others have questioned his qualifications and now there seems to be a grassroots effort to expunge him. I have now joined the group removing him from the Knights Errant list. In my case, his listing fits reasonably under other chess blogs. Regarding PSalcido's recommendation that we create more formal rules for membership, I think the current ones work fine. This incident demonstrates to me that if someone tries to take advantage of the loose admission rules, the broader Knights' community has the willingness and wherewithal to rectify the mistake.

Added To The Sidebar

Welcome Der Alter Goniff and It's fairly simple actually - give a link, get a link.

Removed From Other Chess Blogs

Fun with Chess Problems
also appears to have gone into the ether. Perhaps it has moved from AOL to somewhere else, but I haven't been able to find it.

Finally, I've made a number of additions to other chess blogs over the past month. A few that probably merit at least an initial perusal are Chess Learning, For Chess Lovers Journal, Dotbuzz, Sonja's Chess Journey and Derek880.

Not from this planet

Click this link and scroll down to the picture. Never mind the chess set; take a look at those eyes!

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Fritz's favorite flick

Game Over: Kasparov vs. The Machine
The company, ThinkFilm, sent a review copy of "Game Over: Kasparov vs. The Machine" to all members of the CJA. This DVD is scheduled for US release on May 31, 2005. Daaim Shabazz of The Chess Drum posted a brief but informative review. I'm scheduled to write a review for ChessCafe when the DVD comes out.

posted by Howard Goldowsky

Chess as physical education?

Apparently in the Philippines some school districts have bought into the chess as sport position. From the post "Things I Miss" by A Cat in the Bag Waiting to Drown:
Playing chess every PE class. We had the option to play either or ball games in the field. My friends and I chose to lock ourselves in the classroom instead of running under the blazing hot sun.

Who is he?

"He was autodidact, a professional Chess player and a photographer before making his early pictures. He said that taught him to control the initial emotion of intuition before making a decision and [to] think again. This is pure intellectualism that is evident in his movies."
Make your guess as a comment; I'll post the answer soon.

Update (3/30/05): You guys are too good! You can find the answer here.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Chess and Music VI

New Fischer games, old Fischer stories... Given recent events, I'm surprised that this piece of pop culture hasn't been resurrected (I guess that's what I'm doing).

In 2000, Australian pop band Lazy Susan released their debut single entitled "Bobby Fischer":
Bobby Fischer beat Spassky in Iceland in '72.
I know a girl who's better
looking but who thinks like Bobby Fischer too.
When Bobby Fischer was a kid
they knew he was a prodigy.
I know a girl who's somewhat older but no less
of an authority.

I wish I had the smarts to understand her charts.
If I don't concentrate she'll have me in check mate.

In Tampa Bay
and Lafayette they all know Bobby Fischer's name.
I know a girl who made her
mark in smaller cities but her fame's the same.
When Bobby Fischer made his
comeback in the 90's he was worse for wear.
I know a girl who made a
comeback but her mind was altogether there.

She said: "I drink chocolate
milk, from a cow I built.
"Doot n'doot doot doot. Doot n'doot doot doot."

They're all saying that you'll never play again.
They're all saying
that you're finished, that you're washed up as a friend.
All my life I've
"feather-dustered" but that's not how it's going to end. Oh no.

Spys in
hideouts send their secret messages.
There's a thief caught in the
headlights of a car beneath a bridge.
There's no lights on in the house
except the light inside the fridge. Oh yeah.

Reykjavik, no one ever says
Reykjavik in a song.
Reykjavik, no one ever says Reykjavik in a song.

They're all saying that you'll never play again.
They're all saying
that you're finished and that you're washed up as a friend.
All my life I've
"feather-dustered" but that's not how I'm going to end. Oh no.

Spys in
hideouts send their secret messages.
There's a thief caught in the
headlights of a car beneath a bridge.
There's no lights on in the house
except the light inside the fridge........... Oh yeah.
You can try to stream or download the song here.

New York, New York

From Je ne regrette rien... :
I take the city as it comes, breathe it in breathe it out. It entertains me with its mere existence, as I play my part in its daily game of . It always wins.

I'm reminded of a quote attributed to musician Robert Fripp -- something like "...being in the city forces one to be more alive."

New York Skyline

Chess and Management II

New Victorian posts the following under the topic of conspiracy. To my mind, it simply points out an example of effective and efficient leadership.
...I was once the vice-president of a club, and the president and I were discussing the format for the club championship. We had agreed on a good idea, and I said, "Well then, at the next meeting we'll bring it up and listen to everyone's ideas and discuss it." He, a very successful manager, replied, "No, at the next meeting we'll present the format we've decided on and they'll approve it." And that's what happened...

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Things have sure changed in 30 years

Somehow I don't remember anything like this at my school's club:
i had chess club today so i'm in an extra special great mood. Chess Club just does that for me. There was this really hottttt guy there today. omg. he flirted with me and i almost melted.
From Mandy's Journal 3/16/05

Chess in Australia revisited

Based on this snippet, I'm guessing mechanical turk's campaign to save Monash University's Chess Club was a success:
I've become president of the Monash University Chess Association...

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Bryan's Song

As I mentioned previously, it was quite a surprise to see Bryan Clark at the BCC this weekend. For those of you who don't know him, Bryan is a life-member and former president of the Boylston Chess Club. Several years ago he announced that he was giving up the 9 to 5 grind for life in Las Vegas as a professional poker player. I hadn't seen him since, though I knew he was still alive since he has made an occasional comment on this blog. On Saturday, Bryan shared with me the story of his adventures in the City of Sin and gave me permission to repost it here.
Bryan Clark (center)
Bryan Clark (center)

It has been three years since I embarked on my career as a professional poker player. On Thursday, May 10, 2001, I arrived in Las Vegas with two suitcases of clothing, a garment bag with four business suits which I've worn only once at most, a gym bag of miscellaneous items, and a cashier's check which was going to provide everything else I was going to need.

I've met many 2+2ers over the last few years and often the topic turns to my decision to play for a living. But, I don't think I've ever told the story on the forum and certainly haven't given out all the details.

The story probably starts a little more than a year earlier. In March of 2000, I was working as an accountant at Investors Bank & Trust in Boston. I had been an employee there for four and half years. It was the only job I held since graduation from college in 1995. But, after being very enthusiastic about my work for the first couple years, I became very disillusioned. Simply put, I couldn't find any joy in the 9-5 workforce.

One day, Human Resources asked all employees to sign some form which stated that after leaving IBT, no employee would try to recruit from IBT. It's a standard practice. However, there was something about being asked to sign the form which made me feel trapped in the job. It was as if signing the form meant I was going to be stuck there forever. So, I refused and my employment at IBT was abruptly over.

For more than a year, I considered different ways of making a living while using my savings to pay the bills. In the fall of 2000, I resigned myself to returning to accounting and had several job interviews the day after the Presidential election (after staying up to 4:00am watching the drama unfold). I had bought four new suits for the interviews and eventual job. I bought new shoes. I bought new shirts. I bought new everything. It probably cost me about $1,500-$2,000. I got a couple job offers and turned them down. I couldn't go back. The money was wasted.

The only source of income I had (and it was miniscule) was running chess tournaments. Chess, like so many games before it, was something which I could immerse myself in. I started playing actively in chess tournaments a few years earlier, about the same time I became disillusioned in my job. Strategy games have always been my favorite hobbies. Whether it was chess, rotisserie baseball, a dice-based wrestling game, I always got more joy out of strategy games than anything else.

On Easter weekend of 2001, more than a year after leaving my job, I went to Foxwoods to play in the 3rd Annual Foxwoods Chess Open. I had been there the previous two years and it had become my favorite chess tournament. It was a four-day tournament with two games per day on the final three days. That allowed some time during the day to play in the casino.

I thought gambling was rather stupid. I enjoyed walking through the casino and watching the games but I had no intentions of playing much. The first year I was there, 1999, I gave myself a budget of $20 and used it to spend some time playing quarter slot machines just for the hell of it. At some point, I hit a good-sized win on a Triple Triple Diamond machine and that become my favorite. I think I broke even on the machines that year. The second year, 2000, I lost the $20. The poker room also intrigued me but I couldn't muster up the courage to actually play.

When I went to Foxwoods in April of 2001 to play in the chess tournament, I decided I was going to give the poker room a try. On my first day, I noticed a practice table but it didn't have a dealer. I made a mental note to go back to that spot in between chess games and see if I could get some lessons. On the second day, a dealer was there and I sat down. There was a player who had busted out of his stud game but decided to stick around and play at the training table for a while. He gave me some basic advice on strategy for 1-3 stud: "Play pairs, three flushes, and three straights. Fold everything else." It made sense and I followed it. That stranger was the first influence on my poker career.

I have a vague memory of playing poker with my parents once when I was about 7 years old. That wasn't for money. In college, two friends and I played draw poker for quarters for a few hours. Other than those two occasions, I had no experience whatsoever. On the afternoon of Saturday, April 14, 2001, I played casino poker for the first time. I bought in for $60 in a 1-3, no ante, 7-card stud game. I booked a small win and was more anxious to play poker again than I was to finish the chess tournament.

While playing 1-3 stud, I remember thinking how big the 1-5 stud game looked. "Wow. That game is played with a $0.50 ante rather than no ante." Those stakes seemed intimidating.

In between chess games on Sunday, I played for two hours and lost my entire $60 buy-in. It was a little disheartening but I came back that night after my final chess game and played an all-night session. In total, I logged 19 hours at the 1-3 stud tables and won something like $80.

I returned home after the weekend chess/poker getaway. I had been looking for a new apartment because I had to leave the one I had while some kind of repairs were being done. Things came together.

There I was - unemployed, looking for a new home, disillusioned with the 9-5 workforce, and knowing the one thing I truly loved doing was playing games. So, I made probably the biggest leap of faith of my life to date. With experience of only 19 hours of 1-3 stud, I packed a few bags and flew to Las Vegas with the intention of making myself a professional poker play.

It's interesting to look back and see how little I knew about poker and the poker world. Here are a couple examples:

1. I had never heard the word "hold 'em". I had noticed that at some of the poker tables at Foxwoods, the players only got two cards. But, that hardly seemed like poker to me. After all, how can you play poker when you are only dealt two cards? It seemed silly. I didn't intend to get involved with that game at all. I thought 7-card stud was a real poker game where you got all your own cards

2. I had no appreciation of how many places you could play poker. I knew there were casinos in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Connecticut. But, I had never heard that poker was legal in California. "Poker in casinos in California? How strange." I certainly didn't know anything about online play.

In the 25 days between leaving Foxwoods and arriving in Las Vegas, I arranged for an apartment. I took a taxi from the airport to my new unknown home and signed a lease without even looking at the apartment.

On my first day in Las Vegas, I had dinner at a nearby casino buffet, bought a few groceries at the supermarket, and then walked one mile to the west to get my first look at the famous Las Vegas Strip. It was impressive. My new backyard was an interesting place. I spent my first night sleeping on the floor of my completely empty apartment using a jacket as a blanket.

I managed to get my couch and some other furniture delivered by mid-afternoon the next day. Other furniture came in the next few days and so I decided to start my new career.

I had learned through scouting all the Strip casinos that my preferred 1-3 stud wasn't played in Las Vegas. So, I was immediately going to have to jump into the big 1-5 stud games. On Sunday, May 13, 2001, at 8:45 pm, I officially became a professional poker player. I bought into the Flamingo's 1-5 stud game and booked a $72.50 win in 4.25 hours of play. It was a good start.

Before I arrived in Las Vegas, I had purchased a copy of Seven Card Stud for Advanced Players. It was probably a very good sign that I recognized 7CSFAP wasn't the right strategy book for my games. Within a week of arriving in Vegas, I discovered the Gambler's Book Shop- an incredible store with books on any form of gambling you could want. I started my poker library with Roy West's 7 Card Stud Book and added more than a dozen more over the next half year.

I spent the summer of 2001 exclusively playing 1-5 stud. When I wasn't playing, I was reading my newly bought library. I also came to appreciate that 7-card stud was not the ideal way to make a living. I knew I was going to have to learn that strange two card poker game called hold 'em. So, I started by playing in play money no-limit tournaments on I enjoyed it a lot and even managed to finish first in one tournament which had about 200 entrants

As the summer ended, I decided to make my first jump in limits. On Friday, 8/31, I played 4-8 stud at the Bellagio. On the following Saturday and Sunday, I played 5-10 stud at the Mirage. The following Tuesday, I played 4-8 hold 'em for the first time at the Monte Carlo. I won $40.50 in five hours of play. I was on my way up.


In late August, I discovered the forums. My first posts weren't much different than everybody else's. In the stud forum, I asked a question along the lines of "What do you do when somebody always raises with an Ace doorcard?" In the small stakes hold 'em forum, I asked, "How do you play when you make a small flush with 76s?" Right from the start, I was a prolific and opinionated poster and that got the attention of a couple Vegas locals who had been terrorizing the Mirage 6-12 hold 'em game for a while.

I got an e-mail from Dave Clark who you all know as Clarkmeister. He and his friend, Derek Andrew, wanted to meet up. I had been planning to make another trip to the Gambler's Book Store so I decided I'd meet these guys before heading there.

On Tuesday, October 23, 2001, Dynasty and Clarkmeister met face-to-face for the first time. Has the world been the same since? Dave and Derek left their 6-12 game and we chatted for a bit in the Mirage Sports Bar. I'm sure Dave was his usual chatty self and I sat there mostly quiet, occasionally making a comment or two.

Dave learned a few things about me that day. I mentioned that I was planning to go to the Gambler's Book Store - to walk there. Dave seemed appalled at the idea of making the four-or-so mile walk; especially knowing I'd be walking back too. But, he and Derek decided to go with me. Of course, we were taking his car. I bought "Inside the Poker Mind" which Dave recommended highly and we returned to the Mirage.

Dave then got a taste of my poker discipline when I simply refused to sit down in a hold 'em game. I had played six days in a row and that day was supposed to be a day off. Also, the Mirage was my stud room. I hadn't played a single hand of hold 'em there. The Monte Carlo and Mandalay Bay had become my hold 'em homes. However, I couldn't be outright rude. So, I said I'd play some 1-5 stud with them for an hour or two so we could play and chat.

Before Dave and Derek even got into the stud game, we all had the same idea. We decided to play a $15 satellite for the evening hold 'em tournament. I had never played in a real tournament and was intrigued by it. Dave was the first player eliminated. He got a free play in his big blind with something like 87o and the flop came 9,6,5 two-tone. He and another opponent went all-in on the flop. Unfortunately for Dave, the other guy had 87s for the same flopped straight and a flush draw to go with it. The flush came and Dave was out early. Maybe that's why he doesn't like tournaments. I finished in 4th place. Derek finished in 2nd.

Dave and I would occasionally see each other over the next few months when I would go to the Mirage to play 5-10 stud. In December, I moved up in stakes again and played in the Mirage 6-12 and Bellagio 8-16 hold 'em games so we bumped into each other a lot more and even played in the same games a few times. But, I'm not sure if we were actually friends. We were certainly friendly. If I saw him in the Mirage, I would always say hello and talk for a bit if we had the time. But, we never did anything else together.

Dave is an extremely extroverted and social person. Any 2+2er who has met him would surely say the same. I'm close to the exact opposite. I'm very introverted and a bit of a loner. I'm particularly quiet and distant when first meeting most people. So, if it were not for our common love of poker, it seems unlikely that anything else would have made us friends.

If there were a moment when our acquaintance became a true friendship, it would be our first poker road trip together to the Commerce. Dave, Derek, and I took the four-hour drive from Las Vegas to California and spent four days in the largest poker room in the country. Long drives and sharing a room sort of forced me to start talking and everything flowed easily after that.

When playing hold 'em at the Commerce I stayed mostly in the 6-12 games while Dave braved the 9-18 on the important-looking raised platform. I annoyed Derek a bit by getting a $229 share of the bad beat jackpot just hours after arriving.

On the third day of our trip, I made the next jump in stakes and played 10-20 stud on a whim and had good results. During the rest of the winter, I spent most of my time playing 10-20 stud at the Mirage and 15-30 stud at the Bellagio. When I played hold 'em, it was mostly 4-8.

In late March of 2002, I returned to Massachusetts for a week to visit my family and other things. I had been a professional poker player for 10 months but most of my time was spent playing small stakes. During this week off, I realized that I was simply going to have to make another leap of faith. If I wanted to make it as a player, I needed to have the confidence in myself and move up in limits. So, I resolved myself to move up see what happened. In April, I started playing the Mirage 10-20 and Bellagio 15-30 hold 'em games.

On April 5th, I had a big day. I even made a post about it. For the first time, I made $1,000 in a single day, thus paying my rent, and then some, with a single day's work. I played the 10-20 stud game in the afternoon and won $456. In the evening, I played the Bellagio 15-30 hold 'em game for the very first time. I booked a $596 win. $1,052 in one day! I was hopeful that it would always be so easy.

By June, I was a regular in the Mirage 20-40 hold 'em game despite actually having bad results in the 10-20 hold 'em game. Of course, having thirteen consecutive winning sessions in the 20-40 game and a winrate of 3.7 big bets/hour for the month of June meant I didn't give a damn what my 10-20 results were. I was crushing the 20-40 game.

For the past two years, I've been content in the 20-40 game. I've pretty much stayed there except when I thought the game was regularly bad for a stretch. I would move up to 30-60 if the Bellagio waiting lists weren't such a mess. I'll probably do it this summer anyway when I'm playing the graveyard shift.

Somewhere in one of Mason's books, he discusses that a lot of players who try to make a living at start off quickly but then burn out. He said that it should take three years before you should know whether you can make a living at this profession. My three years are up.

originally posted 5/10/04 on 2+2 Forums by Bryan Clark

Monday, March 21, 2005

Chess and Family

Marriage is a lot like pieces.... The King is the guy, the queen is the girl. The king sits around all the time and basically does nothing but is very important. The queen does everything and can accomplish more. The pawn is like a child, it's slow but can move its ass faster than the king. The Noble is like a friend, the ones who do cool things like move diagonally.... The Knight would be a dog, it moves too fast for the king and he can't walk it. So he lets it roam wild in crazy directions....


Chess Poetry II

Since the beginning of dawn
It is always the pawn
Who dies at the front
While facing the brunt
Of a king’s pep talk

And the horse and its hooves
Makes the most moves
And sometimes finds glory...

Women in Chess

As many people already know, both Polgar and Shahade will soon be coming out with books about women in . Shahade has been quite outspoken against the appearance of the site, "The World Chess Beauty Contest". Her guest blog speaking out against the site can be found at Mig's Daily Dirt , and there are literally over one hundred interesting and informative (and long) posts about women in chess and about the feminist movement in general, along with some interesting reading recommendations along the way.

The feminist movement is complicated, and something tells me that Polgar and Shahade are going to approach women's chess from different angles. I thought it would be interesting to track both of their books on JungleScan, a website dedicated to tracking rankings. The site is slow and sometimes doesn't work, but it's the only one I know about that does such things. As of today (editor's note: 3/18/05), Polgar's book ranks 186,197, and Shahade's 254,022. Polgar's book is scheduled to be available in stores on May 1, 2005, and although Shahade's was originally scheduled to be available February 15, her publisher informed me that the current release date is now June 1.

posted by Howard Goldowsky

Sunday, March 20, 2005

My weekend

I had a weekend that would probably make our friend at Second Symphony proud -- and Classical Music.

I played in my first weekend tournament at the club in a very long time (I'm usually a weeknight round per week guy). It was great to see some of the players I haven't seen in a while, e.g. Mishkin and Eldridge, and it was quite a surprise to find Bryan Clark there on Saturday (more on Bryan is coming in a subsequent post). The tournament was from the "Legends" series, this one named after Kermeur de Legall. As Ed Foye put it, "Have we already run out of Legends that most people have heard of?" Legall is, of course, the French player from the 1700's best known for Legall's mate. Bernardo put together a one page biography of Legall including his famous game. I won't reprint it here, but for the record Legall, patron of the Berkowitz family - owners of a local, and now national, chain of seafood restaurants, played White. His opponent was Saint Brie, the Vatican's overseer of soft French cheeses.

Hall was the location of Saturday evening's activities -- an all "American" program by the Boston Symphony Orchestra featuring Ives' Symphony No. 2, Varese's Ameriques, and Gershwin's An American in Paris. As usual, the music was excellent, though I continue to wonder why the BSO Board chose "Bozo the Clown" as Seji Ozawa's replacement.
James Levine Bozo the Clown
Who is the BSO's 14th Music Director?

Three-player chess

Three people, one chess set and nobody wants to watch? Nicksquad has a solution.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Learn through winning

Forget about all that advice to improve your skills by playing strong opposition -- at least if you're playing poker.
Unlike chess or tennis, instructional literature of poker unabashedly recommends finding weaker opponents to play against. David Sklansky, the premier gambling math man, points to game selection, meaning choosing a game full of players you can beat, as the most important, least developed poker skill.

Hey Roddick, what's your rating?

Andy Roddick

A site which applies the ELO rating system to Men's tennis. (Hat Tip: BRG Blog)

Opening Preparation

From Something new:
I am almost as unskilled at as at basketball, but I think I could hold my own through the first two moves or so.

Chess and Diplomacy

"Diplomacy is a game of chess in which the nations are checkmated." - Karl Kraus (1874 - 1936), writer

Hat Tip: Toner Mishap

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Is curling a sport?

Automatic badgirl says no to curling this weekend. Why?
I know people like the sport and all but for me it combines all the fast paced crazy excitement of chess with the added thrill of cold and ice.


Baretta - Chess Master

Now that Robert Blake has been found not guilty of killing his wife, he's got plans:
"I'm going to go out and do a little cowboyin'. You know what that is? Cowboying is getting in a motor home or a van or something like that and you just let the air blow in your hair and you wind up in some little bar in Arizona someplace... You shoot one-handed nine-ball with some 90-year-old Portuguese woman who beats the hell out of you, and the next day you wind up in a park someplace playing with somebody, and you go see a high school play where they're doing 'West Side Story.'"
Hat Tip: The Editor's Blog

New frontiers discovers the Knights Errant.
maple leaf

Look at the stars...

look how they shine for you
And everything you do
Yeah, they were all yellow

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Another chess thought process

There's been a lot of discussion in the Knights Errant blogs about developing the appropriate thought process while playing the game, e.g. here, here, and here. At Twisted View, Ankit describes one you probably won't want to try:
Ever played chess? You know, the great strategic game of chess, the one which all the brainy people play? Of course you have. And so you also know how chess is supposed to be played -- you look at the board, figure out what moves you can make, try to choose the most beneficial one while all the time trying to out-think your opponent. It's a beautiful way to live.

But the problem is I can't do that. When I play chess, I expect to 'know' the right move. I want to look at the board and literally 'see' what's right -- and not spend any time thinking about it at all. Hence the fact that I suck at chess.

A response to Don re: Adsense

Don has asked for my opinion regarding putting Google adsense ads on his blog. His idea is quite interesting since unlike most bloggers who include ads on their sites, his motivation has nothing to do with earning a little revenue or defraying hosting costs. Instead, he wants to provide incremental revenue to Google in order to thank them for providing the Blogger service to us for free. Further, any revenue he does earn he plans to donate in ways which will support chess in his local community. This is my open response to Don regarding his post:

I have struggled for several days to clarify my thoughts on your idea and clearly articulate my arguments. Alas, I have not been overly successful. I believe this is a case where my head and heart may be pointing in different directions. Therefore, what follows is an exposition of what I have been thinking about over the last several days related to this topic. I admit in advance that some of my thoughts are contradictory and the logic of my arguments is not fully consistent with my thesis. Hey, what can I say -- you asked for my thoughts; here they are; do with them what you wish.

First, my overall thesis -- I do not like the idea of including ads on the Knights' blogs primarily for aesthetic reasons: "real" aesthetics (I think they can be ugly and distracting) and more importantly, reader perception (what impact does the presence of ads have on the reader's experience and the judgments he/she makes about the blog, its content, and its author?). As to your objectives, whether we are talking about supporting Google or local chess I wonder whether there are better ways to achieve these objectives.

Let me start by declaring that I am not one of those people who is opposed to the commercialization of the web. In fact, my "paying job" has much to do with using the web for commercial purposes. As I've mentioned previously, one of my main motivations for engaging in these blogging projects has been to learn more about this space for possible applications in corporate environments. In addition, I regularly read blogs which focus on commercializing and monetizing blogs, e.g. here and here.

Therefore, when I come across a blog which is ad-supported and clearly intended to be a commercial enterprise (e.g. big - Gawker's Wonkette or not as big - Digital Photography Blog), I have no problem with that. I also am not bothered by more recreational bloggers who are clear that there intent is to defray some of their hosting costs. However, I have come across several cases where the ads, rightly or wrongly, left me with less than kind thoughts about the blogger and their blog. Here is a perfect example -- World of Chess -- linked under "other chess blogs" in my sidebar. This guy put up his ads before he made his first post. Of course, there is nothing illegal, immoral or unethical about that. However, as a reader I begin to ask myself about his motivations. Is he really interested in providing relevant, interesting content related to chess or is he just trying to make a few pennies off my interest? Again, if it is the latter that's ok, but it does nonetheless color my perceptions of quality of his content. Consider Mig's Daily Dirt -- while Mig clearly has an overriding commercial agenda (sell newsletters), he has been careful not to use his blog as a hard sell (which of course is not to say that it is not related to his commercial enterprise. It is a branding effort). I believe he does this because he is concerned that a hard sell might diminish his readers' perceptions of the quality and value he delivers.

So where am I going? Don, I think it is important for you to consider what judgments prospective readers might make about your blog if you include ads on it. Will it affect their judgments about the quality and value you deliver? Will they get the wrong impression about your motivations (this is important, since it will probably be difficult for you to easily communicate to new readers what your underlying agenda for including ads is)? Should you even care about things? I don't know to be honest. However, this is the essence of my perceptual aesthetics argument.

My "real" aesthetics argument is much simpler. I find the ads ugly and distracting. Of course this is both intended and necessary. If the ads don't catch the reader's eye then they are of no value to the advertiser. This is important if your intent is to make money. However, this is not your primary objective. So I ask, why mess with your reader's experience? In response to the adsense post, General Kaia replied, "That sound[s] good to me. I won't mind any distractions." He won't mind them, but clearly acknowledges that they will be distractions.

google logo

Assuming there is any validity to my arguments above (and I grant that they are arguable), one might argue that your objectives are noble and therefore warrant either or both aesthetic compromises mentioned above. Let's start with supporting Google. First, I think one could argue that you really don't owe Google anything. Google's business model is predicated on having only a small percentage of its Blogger blogs using adsense. Even though you don't, you still provide value to Google by increasing their market share in the blogging space and attracting others to the service that may not have been aware of it. This then results in many new blogs (you certainly have been a catalyst for this in our little corner of the blogosphere), a small percentage of which do choose to include ads. In other words, you are not freeloading from Blogger.

Ok, you might buy that but still feel like you would like to do something more for them. I think there are alternatives to consider that won't have the side effect of messing up your readers' perceptions and experiences. Here's two:
  • Do Google searches on high value items like digital cameras, computers, etc. and click on the sponsored links. Google earns a lot more money on these than chess-related ads. A few clicks a day should do it.

  • Write Google a check (this has the added benefit of not meeting your need to help them through Other People's Money; in the ad approach you are using advertisers' money to address your freeloading concerns. One might argue that you are freeloading off someone else to mitigate your concerns about freeloading)
Now, let's talk about "charitable" support for chess. I recognize that this is not your primary motivation but instead simply a reasonable way to dispose of the residual income that you might receive by putting up the ads. However, let's suppose that having built a readership over the past six months you did want to leverage it to support chess in your community. I have actually thought about this a bit. As you know the BCC Weblog is associated with the Boylston Chess Foundation. The Foundation (which is in the process of receiving 501c3 charitable status) has a mission to promote and support chess in the local community, schools, etc. As such, I have considered the possibility of raising money for the foundation from the weblog. My research in this area suggests that given our objective and readership size (BCC Weblog will never be confused with Daily Kos) we would be likely to raise more money through a direct appeal (maybe in conjunction with a PayPal tip jar) than through ads. I suspect this is right ... I'm sure several of my readers would donate a couple of bucks to support if they think I'm providing useful and relevant content to them. Just imagine how many ads I would need them to click to generate the same (keep in mind that "chess" is not a high-value keyword on Google).

There you have it, my thoughts on your adsense post. I hope you find these thoughts useful in contemplating your decision.


The word "Checkmate" in chess comes from the Persian phrase "Shah Mat," which means, "the King is dead"
From "Language Fun" at Friends For All.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Chess and the inexorable march of time

At One of Six, Tink lists the Sure Signs of Aging, including:
You become winded playing chess.
Wasn't there some arguing going on about whether chess included a physical component?

Chess and State Government

Trying to pass ethics requirements with the Louisiana legislature is like refereeing a chess tournament of hooting bonobo monkeys. Every once in a while, one might push a pawn in the right direction, but mostly it's just the screeching and the flinging and the never-ending hooting, the hideous hooting ...
From Suspect Device Blog - This is what you want, this is what you get.

Chess is more important than freedom

Who knew prison was so much fun?
BUNDABERG, AUSTRALIA - A man in Australia has won a three-week extension of his prison stay after begging a judge to keep him behind bars long enough to ... start up a chess club.... Taking the time he had already served into account, the judge was about to free him when Campbell spoke up to ask for more jail time. The judge obliged with an extra three weeks to ... make sure his friends behind bars could enjoy the chess club he was in the middle of setting up.
Read "Chess-loving convict asks for more jail time" from CBC News.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Quick! Rush to the hospital!

I think another knight is about to be born.

Update: Don announced the induction of José Ribeiro to the Errant collective. They usually come in threes, so be on the lookout.

[Side comment: Hey Logis, notice anything different on this page?]

What makes a strong chess player?

Cognition in Chess by J. Corey Butler discusses the roles of IQ, memory, visualization and pattern recognition. You might have had a chance to read this several years ago except that:
" article was rejected [by Life magazine]..."

More chess and baseball

The duel between pitcher and batter as a game of chess:
Confidence is the main factor that decides the success of any hurler, for all Major League pitchers are talented. Rather, it's the ones who are confident and mentally tough that will find long term glory, as they keep their thoughts and emotions in check, all the while dominating the chess game with a batter.

Mistaken identity

Neha Viswanathan at Within/Without has had enough:
For the Last Time...
I am not related to Viswanathan Anand the Chess player.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Don't forget to read the comments

Awhile back, Pawn Sensei expressed surprise over the fact that I mined a comment from one of the Knight's blogs as the basis for a post. First off, I am an equal opportunity idea "stealer", but, more importantly, sometimes the great ideas are in the responses. Here is such a case:

Nezha's post "Two Ideas" (a good read in its own right) led to several comments which I believe get to the heart of the relevance, significance and healthy growth of the Knights Errant community. To put it simply, the Knights are walking, not talking.
Yesterday evening I read some posts on a few chess improvement forums. What they wrote there was a lot of chit-chat about what probably would happen if one should follow this or that training method. A lot of semantics misunderstanding too. What I like about the Knights is that they are working. So I like to do things in the following order: 1st: get results, 2nd: have a big mouth and chit-chat. Not the other way around. - Temposchlucker

One of the great virtues of de la Maza's program is that it is simple. You either do the problems or not, so it is easy to define whether or not you have succeeded. No doubt there are more effective programs, but many seem forever to debate the ultimate study program without actually starting it. - Don

The biggest difference between the knights and everyone else, is that we are actually making a concerted, organized effort at improvement. I have yet to hear negative criticism from anyone who has completed the program. I've heard lots of negative criticism from people who haven't even tried. - Pale Morning Dun

Chess and Management

John Moore of Brand Autopsy summarizes the key takeaways from Marcus Buckingham's book "The One Thing You Need to Know". His first lesson:

Great managers play chess, not checkers

Average managers play checkers, The One Thing You Need To Knowwhile great managers play chess. The difference? In checkers, all the pieces are uniform and move in the same way; they are interchangeable. You need to plan and coordinate their movements, certainly, but they all move at the same pace, on parallel paths. In chess, each type of piece moves in a different way, and you can’t play if you don’t know how each piece moves.

Great managers know and value the unique abilities and even the eccentricities of their employees, and they learn how best to integrate them into a coordinated plan of attack.

I suspect that this works only as an analogy; I would be surprised if chess players show more aptitude for management or success as managers than the general population. In fact, based on some of the chess players I know just the opposite may be true.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Chess and Movies

A site which comprehensively catalogs every movie with a chess-related scene - over 600 so far. (Hat Tip: Bitter Cinema)

More on chess as a sport

Here's another perspective to add to the Great Goldowsky- Monokroussos-Rakshasas Debate. Fire away!

Slate Magazine asks the question "Is Math a Sport? ". Along the way they conclude that chess is not a sport, but chessboxing probably is.
The philosopher Bernard Suits defines a sport as a game that meets the following four criteria: "(1) that the game be a game of skill; (2) that the skill be physical; (3) that the game have a wide following; and (4) that the following achieve a certain level of stability."

The first condition excludes Russian roulette; the second eliminates math, chess, spelling, and bridge; the third and fourth conditions, alas, rule out urinating for distance. Suits' definition is compelling, but difficulties hide not far below the surface. What, for instance, does he mean by "the skill"? All but the most primal sports demand multiple skills, some physical, some not. Maybe one should take 2) to mean "at least one of the skills relevant to the game is physical." In that case, chess boxing, in which competitors engage in pugilism and speed chess in alternate rounds, makes the cut.
So apparently Canadian IM Michael Schleifer was trying to combine two non-sports to create a new sport.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Chess Art

Paul Klee's Great Chess-Game (1937)

Honoré-Victorin Daumier's The Chess Players (c. 1863-67)

Move over Tony Rook...

...we've got Chris Kilgore!

As Viking Sword mentioned, is certainly an excellent service for the chess community. In fact, I've been listening and watching videos since the early days, long before it was integrated into the ICC site.

However, Chris has now demonstrated that multimedia presentations of game annotations need not be limited to the titled elite. Check out his first foray -- an excellent piece of work, IMHO.

Could this be the equivalent of podcasting for the class-level chess player?

Chess exhibition at local museum

From the Easton Journal:
Pelican bishops, two-faced queens, bean bag knights and oil can kings are just some of the chess pieces created by ninety international metalsmiths for "Chess," on exhibit at Fuller Craft Museum [in Brockton, MA] through June 5.... Metalsmiths from all over the world were invited to contribute individual chess pieces for the exhibition. The only requirements were that pieces had to be recognizable (e.g., as king, queen, pawn, etc) and meet height restrictions (4-10.5cm).... Several of the artists in "Chess" are master metalsmiths, well know for their magnificent creations in miniature.


Thursday, March 10, 2005

Fear not scholastic chess

Tom Braunlich initiated a spirited debate about scholastic chess with his article "Scholastics and the Soul of Chess" (and this subsequent update). For those who share Tom's point of view, all may not be lost. Consider this account from Neil Steinberg's column in the Chicago Sun-Times:
My oldest son belongs to Chess Wizards, a program that comes into public schools and sets up chess clubs, pairing interested students with experienced teachers.

Some schools, I am told, resist. They don't like chess.

Any idea why?

Think hard.

In chess . . . someone wins, usually.

Can't have that. The losers might feel bad.
Of course, these particular school administrators would hail Peter Leko as a hero. (Hat Tip: Mental multivitamin)

The middle six

There are currently eighteen Knights, so I decided that reviewing six at a time seemed like a reasonable approach. Here's some of the goings on in the center of the list:
  • CelticDeath offers more details on the aftermath of his wisdom teeth extraction than most people probably care to read. Of course solving chess problems won't seem so painful in comparison.

  • Tempo proves unequivocally that drinking alcohol should improve your chess. Now that's something to cheer about! Later, he posed the question about when one should accept draw offers. I offered the following:

    One of the players in our club, a master, has a simple rule "Only offer or accept a draw when you think you are losing". While I don't follow this rule myself, I think it is good advice.

    Of course, once your opponents know this is your strategy they can use it against you. See an example here.

  • Spill takes on Sil.

  • Fatboy wins Jen's challenge.

  • Way back when, Yet Another Patzer asked "will I be really improving?" If his blogging is any indication of his commitment to chess improvement then I would say probably not. I'm sorry to say that this blogger has followed the trail originally blazed by the Orange Knight.

    Everyone sing together -- 18 Knights Errant blogs on the wall, 18 Knights Errant blogs, take one down, pass it around, 17 Knights Errant blogs on the wall.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Chess - The Musical

It's been dubbed a thinking man's musical -- which may explain why it bombed on Broadway....

Inspired by the world-was-watching contest between American chess genius Bobby Fischer and the Russian champion Boris Spassky in 1972, the fictionalized face-off isn't about the game. Rather, "Chess" mirrors the way the players were manipulated by the Soviet and American governments during the Cold War....

"Chess" opened in London in 1986, where it ran for three years. It debuted on Broadway in 1988 and closed after just two months.
Read "'Chess': A stage musical that makes crowds think" from the Staten Island Advance.

Interesting new blogs

You might want to check out A patzer's a distant paradise. Fraktál is from Romania and this post entitled "Is it worth doing tactics exercises?" certainly suggests that he is not a Knights Errant candidate. Nevertheless, he has several interesting posts including these free chess software suggestions.

Another relatively new blog is Patzer's Mind -- "Yet another chess improvement blog." Bahus hails from Finland, and in case you were wondering here is his analysis of the strength of Finnish chess players. Bahus' improvement plan is broad in scope but is influenced by the MDLM method. He also includes some nice diagrams with arrows in his game annotations.

Tim Krabbé and Martha Stewart

Chunter opines that Tim's suggestion that "...Joop van Oosterom, the Dutch billionaire/new World Correspondence Chess Champion, is operated by Jeroen Piket" (Open Chess Diary #277) could run him afoul of Britain's libel laws.

I can imagine a whole new line of trading cards -- Chess Prisoners 2005 Edition.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Knights of Emotion

Elation: Don completes the seven circles, a remarkable achievement!

Sancho shares his new path -- a balanced approach but still heading for the same destination.

Despair: J'adoube calls it quits from MDLM and the Knights (but see the comments for the remaining Knights' efforts to keep him in the fold; I'll await the outcome before making any changes to my sidebar).

In Don's honor I have dug deep into the archives -- my first post about the Knights Errant De La Maza. And while the celebration remains in full swing, the chess improvement ecosystem marches on. Welcome the birth of a new Knight, Viking Sword.

Chess and Cars

Here's a metaphor that never would have occurred to me:
Selling cars is a lot like playing chess. It is the same interaction played out a billion different ways all of them similar to the unaided eye, but drastically different to the trained professional.


Even more chess crime

For the Emory Chess Club, it was clear from the rules of entry that last Friday’s chess tournament was different from any previous competition.... To reach their opponents, club members had to walk through two large metal gates, two remote-operated sliding doors and a courtyard lined with security cameras and barbed wire.
Are chess tournaments now considered high priority targets for Al Qaeda? Hopefully not; in any case, this was something very different.
While the members of the club wore blue collared shirts that said “Emory University Chess,” their opponents wore white jumpsuits with blue lining that said “State Prisoner” or “Dept. of Corrections” in all capital letters on the back.
Read "Emory's latest stop on chess circuit: penitentiary" from The Emory Wheel.

Chess and Music V


Monday, March 07, 2005

Silicon Chess

No, this isn't about computer chips optimized for playing chess (and my apologies in advance for possibly violating my self-imposed PG standard for this blog).

Unbecoming Levity provides a list of 101 Uses for a Used Giant Breast Implant:
74. Play chess with it. Don't feel bad if it wins, chess is hard.

Chess Stamps

Stamps from around the world with chess-related themes.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Another chess joke

Here is further evidence of why there are so few chess jokes. From easier than writing by hand...:
Q. what does the terminator say when challenged to a game of chess?

A. (in a austrian accent) "i'll be black!"

Alternative Realities

Music Box Girl responds to the question, " If you were a chess piece, which would you be? Why?":
Well, admittedly, I don't know how to play chess. I have dated more guys that seem to love it and vow to teach me how to play at some point in the relationship. That never happens. Perhaps we're too busy kissing or something. I don't know. So most of my chess knowledge comes from that Pixar short before Toy Story (or is it A Bug's Life) and the first Harry Potter movie. So my answer is the Queen? Just cause it sounds cool....
All of a sudden I'm daydreaming about how nice it might have been to grow up in Kentucky.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

A Chess Story

A financier recalls a friend named Smoggs who was on the road to becoming a brilliant financier until he got sidetracked by chess.

"It came gradually at first: he used to play chess with a man during the lunch hour, when he and I both worked for the same firm. And after a while he began to beat the fellow.... And then he joined a chess club, and some kind of fascination seemed to come over him; something like drink, or more like poetry or music... he could have been a financier. They say it's no harder than chess, though chess leads to nothing. I never saw such brains wasted."

"There are men like that," agress the prison warden. "It's a pity..." And he locks the financier back in his cell for the night.
Hat Tip: I only did this to be popular

Friday, March 04, 2005

Chess and the Meaning of Life

Canuck in Asia quotes from Viktor Frankl's "The Doctor & the Soul: From Psychotherapy to Logotherapy":
...In the light of existential analysis there is no such thing as a generally valid and universally binding life task. From this point of view the question of "the" task in life or "the" meaning of life is -- meaningless. It reminds us of the question a reporter asked a grandmaster in chess. "And now tell me, maestro -- what is the best move in ?" Neither question can be answered in a general fashion, but only in regard to a particular situation and person. The chess master, if he took the question seriously, would have had to reply: "A chess-player must attempt, within the limits of his ability and within the limits imposed by his opponent, to make the best move at any given time." Two points must be stressed here. First, "within the limits of his ability"; that is to say, the inner state, what we call temperament, must be taken into consideration. And, secondly, the player can only "attempt" to make a move which is best in a concrete situation in the game -- that is, in relation to a specific configuration of the pieces. If he set out from the start with the intention of making the best move in an absolute sense, he would be tormented by eternal doubts and endless self-criticism, and would at best overstep the time limit and forfeit the game...To ask the meaning of life in general terms is to put the question falsely because it refers vaguely to "life" and not concretely to "each person's own' existence...

Thursday, March 03, 2005

Classic chess movie lines

From SuperMovieChick's Top 10 Movie Quotes From The Year 2004:
Movie - Day After Tomorrow [as Brian works on a radio]

Police Officer: You should get some help with that.

Brian Parks: Sir, I'm the president of the electronics club, the mathematics club, and the chess club. If there is a bigger nerd in here, please point him out.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Brought to you as a public service

"Chess is the most elaborate waste of human intelligence outside of an advertising agency."
From "whats up with quotes???" on Your Own Reality.

Polgar on the Lawrence Summers Question

...But Ms. Polgar is not someone who sees the two sexes as the same. "I think women are built differently and approach life very differently," she told me. And in a 2002 column for, she took on what might now be called the Lawrence Summers question. "If we talk about pure abilities and skills, I believe there should be no reason why women cannot play as well as men," Ms. Polgar wrote, but she went on to list various reasons that more female players have not reached chess's highest ranks--among them their biological clocks, narrower opportunities to compete, cultural and gender bias, and the fact that "for years, women have set much lower standards" for themselves in chess than men. "If you do not put in the same work, you can't compete at the same level," she said then...

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

More Chess Songs

The folks at Deep Chess (a German chess website) informed us that they also have a chess-related song. Listen to Deep Chess Song. Since I don't understand any German, I don't know whether this is serious or a joke. Perhaps some of the readers can help?

Dennis Monokroussos also posted a few chess song links.

The Great Debate - Goldowsky Responds

I'd like to thank Dennis Monokroussos for perpetuating our debate on whether or not chess is a sport. While he's been arguing "no", I've been taking the stance that it is.

For the better part of the past week, I've been stuck a few miles from the middle of nowhere in Fairbanks, Alaska (on business), without a personal internet connection. (You can find chess in Fairbanks, but only if you head on over to the University on Saturday afternoon, which I couldn't do.) I feared that people might interpret my lack of response to Monokroussos' impressive debating skills and his super-tight argument as agreement. But this is not so! His debating skills are impressive, but his argument is not, and I'm back to defend my position. Heck, I needed something to think about during my 28 hours of travel time.

To recap our debate so far: Monokroussos argued in his post that chess is not a sport because, in his words, "'s a necessary condition of some activity's being a sport that it has an irreducibly physical component." This, all sane non-steroid-taking chess players agree, chess does not have. However, I argued in my first post that any activity CAN be defined as a sport if it satisfies the jointly sufficient condition that its practitioners rely on both timing and pattern recognition for success. Monokroussos improved on this definition by adding to it the jointly sufficient condition that the activity be competitive. (This would automatically leave out driving to the store, walking to the bus stop, brushing your teeth, cooking for dinner, playing chess with your grandma, etc...) I agree with this improvement, and will also add an additional jointly sufficient condition that success be determined without any intrinsic luck within the rules of competition.

To summarize, here is my definition of what a sport is. To be a sport, an activity must satisfy all four of these jointly sufficient conditions:
  1. Success is based on the practitioner's pattern recognition abilities.
  2. Success is based on the practitioner's timing of their actions.
  3. The activity must be competitive.
  4. Luck is not inherent within the rules of competition.
Based on this new definition (minus the luck requirement), Monokroussos went on to state that he remained skeptical about certain activities being a sport: mainly the activities of writing poetry, making music, and cooking.

OK, now here's my argument against Monokroussos': Monokroussos just plainly says, "I remain skeptical about [these activities being a sport]," without giving much reason why. In my mind, these activities, if they are performed in a competitive environment, no matter how unpopular this may seem, ARE sports. This may seem weird, but if one creates a definition, one must stick to it, no matter what society might think. Poetry competitions represent the sport of poetry, most poets going unpublished their entire lives. The TV show American Idol represents the sport of making music. Iron Chef (on the Food channel) represents the sport of cooking. Competitive poetry can be classified as a mental sport, and American Idol and Iron Chef are physical sports just as valid as any other. In each of these activities there is a set of rules, competition, pattern recognition, and timing requirements. And the fact that the competition is based on subjective judges does not disqualify these activities as sports, either -- figure skating and gymnastics are based on subjective judges, and nobody would deny their sports status.

Monokroussos' second argument was that computers (or a super being) play (or could play) chess without pattern recognition, using a purely brute-force approach. I say that even a brute-force computer program requires pattern recognition. I can easily think of two reasons for this off the top of my head:
  1. IF/THEN statements in computer code are pure pattern recognition. (If the computer sees the conditional, THEN do this, etc.; it must recognize the conditional.)
  2. Number crunching binary data IS pure pattern recognition, too. The computer must recognize the mathematical operations to perform for each line of code. The required operations are directly related to the chess positions on the board.
In sum, both of Monokroussos' arguments need to be strengthened for me to change my mind. I still believe that any activity requiring pattern recognition, timing, and competitiveness (without luck), can be labeled as a sport. Chess, in my mind, is a mental sport. An activity that satisfies Monokroussos' "physical component" is labeled in my mind as a "physical sport". My definition of sport is a much broader definition than Monokroussos', one that can be divided into separate mental and physical sub-categories. I will be happy to settle the debate on these terms.

Finally, in case you're wondering, I believe that the Olympics should be limited to physical sports.

Posted by Howard Goldowsky