Monday, May 30, 2005

The Bryan Clark Poker Dynasty

A couple of months ago I shared the story of former BCC President Bryan Clark's metamorphosis into a professional poker player. Here is his most recent update "Four Years in Las Vegas":
The response to my Three Years in Las Vegas post has been a bit surprising over the past year. In addition to the nearly 15,000 views and 100+ replies (as I write this update), I have also received dozens of PMs and e-mails commenting on all parts of the story and often inquiring about more. Not all of the messages have been from 2+2ers. I've received several e-mails from people who were either linked the post or received it via e-mail from a friend. I've been contacted by people in Europe and Japan asking advice on potentially playing poker for a living and I've received e-mails from old friends who were stunned to see the career path I've traveled.

I can usually count on at least one person per month requesting an update. So, I thought I'd provide what the market is demanding.

The most interesting part about posting Three Years in Las Vegas is something I've never told anybody. When I started writing it, I was happy reflecting back on the effort and success I achieved in my poker career. But, when I was finished and rereading it, I recognized I had fallen into a typical malaise that I often allow myself to.
Bryan Clark (center)
Bryan Clark (center)

Three Years in Las Vegas is sort of mistitled. If you reread it, you'll notice all the paragraphs but the final two are basically about my first year in Las Vegas. That's when all the interesting stuff happened. The second and third years are described like this:

Quote: 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.

That's it. I was just being content in the 20-40 game. For a year, I worked extremely hard to get to a point where I could make a reasonably comfortable living playing 20-40. And, then I just stopped.

So, after writing Three Years in Las Vegas, I spent most of May of 2004, rethinking my career. I just wasn't satisfied with where I was. 20-40 is hardly the pinnacle of poker. There are far greater challenges out there and certainly more money to be made. I wasn't looking to go out and conquer to poker world. But, I did intend to take better advantage of my skills which were already far more than I needed to beat 20-40. I wasn't sure what the end goal was. But, I decided to start exploring options.

Obviously, moving up in limits was a quick option. 30-60 was available at the Bellagio and the 40-80 game was starting to run regularly at the Mirage. Higher limits could be played after that. I considered mixing in tournament play as well. However, there was one obvious avenue which need to be traveled first - the online one.

By the end of May, I had invested about $3,000 in a new computer and two of those ever popular Dell 2001FP monitors. I intended to jump into 8-tabling. First, I would do it at low-limits to get used to the mechanics of it. Then, I would move up when I thought I had the mechanics down pat.

In June and July of 2004, I played exclusively online except for a road trip I made to the Commerce with Clarkmeister and Ed Miller. It was just 3-6 on Party Poker (and skins). But, by 8-tabling, I was making more than $60/hour. Considering it was just 3-6, I had to be happy with the win rate. It was already more than I could reasonably expect to make in a live 20-40 game and it had considerably less variance.

Parts of online play were fun. Getting 10-12 times as many hands per hour ensured there weren't any dead periods. If I wasn't dealt a good hand at the moment, I only had to wait a few minutes before one would show up. On the other hand, there wasn't the social atmosphere of the live game. Online play was definitely going to be a part of my career repertoire. But, it was only going to be a part. I intended to mix in live games as well after sorting out what I wanted to do online.

However, something else was building up slowly. I think I first recognized it during that road trip at the Commerce at the end of June. Clarkmeister, Ed, and I were there for three days. I managed to play a total of 8 hours of poker. I can't even remember what it is that I was doing during the day while they were playing. What I do remember is that I didn't want to play. And, that was a feeling which was going to stick with me for quite a while.

The online hours I put in during June and July were forced hours. I bought the $3,000 computer so I told myself to go sit in front of it [and] pay for it (as well as the monthly bills). But, when August rolled around, that wasn't working any more. In August, I played just short of 15 hours. In September, I played 2 hours. In October, I played 1.5 hours. In November, I didn't play at all until the 10th of the month.

For three and a half months, my poker career basically stopped. I played just 18.33 hours in total. On the few occasions I did play, I left the table quickly. The desire to play just wasn't there.

So, while the bankroll was paying the bills, I immersed myself in non-poker stuff. It was 2004 so there was a big Presidential election on the horizon. I've always enjoyed politics so following the polls and trends of the Bush-Kerry race occupied a lot of my time. For those who don't venture into the Politics forum, you may enjoy look back on my bulls eye prediction of election.

Baseball also took up a lot of my time. During September and October, I enjoyed following every detail of the Red Sox as they won their first World Series in 86 years in one of the most improbable ways imaginable.

During those months, I would occasionally tell myself 'you gotta start playing again'. But, I didn't force anything. I knew I wasn't quitting poker. But, I also didn't want it to be a chore to play.

So, several months had gone by when I hosted a home game during Game 1 of the World Series. Clarkmeister, Ed Miller, Tommy Angelo, Gabe, and mike l. were all there. By that time, the desire to play was starting to come back and I planed to get back on a regular schedule after the election. The subject of my non-playing actually came up and Tommy Angelo actually seemed concerned about it. But, I had learned something about myself. Or, at least, something I knew had been reinforced.

Besides loving the game, there's also another reason I intend to make a living in poker for the indefinite future. I simply don't want to actually work for a living. I've made poker my 'job' because I don't want a job. The flexibility and freedom which comes from playing poker for a living is many times more important to me than the money I make in the game or money I could make in any other profession. Understanding that about myself is part of how I manage my career. I know I've got to occasionally give myself a break from the game, even an extremely long break if necessary.

By the time mid-November came, I was decided to get back into the game. I was also a bit annoyed at seeing steady red ink in my monthly income/expense statements. So, I restarted the path I set for myself five months earlier which meant 8-tabling 3-6 games online and begin moving up later.
There have been a couple bumps in the road since then - one planned and the other unplanned.

The unplanned one was a 300+ big bet losing streak. No matter how good a player you are and no matter how much you understand the theory and mathematics of the game, I don't think you can be prepared for your first mega-losing streak. Prior to this, the worst run I had was about -120 big bets in the Mirage 20-40 game. That was bad. This new streak was 2.5 times larger but felt many more times worse.

The good and bad news about the 300+ big bet losing streak is that it happened while multi-tabling 3-6 online. The good news was that it only cost me a couple thousand dollars. That was easy to absorb. If it had happened in the Mirage 20-40 game and cost me more than $12,000, I would have felt it a lot more.

The bad news was that I was getting my clock cleaned by players who simply played terribly. The competition at this level is abysmal. Getting beat over and over and over by such weak competition is a bit tough to deal with psychologically. One bad beat or bad situation is nothing. A night of bad beats and bad situations is annoying. But, the endless parade I endured during this stretch was more frustrating than anything I can remember. It was a helpless feeling. Of course, it ended eventually and my winning ways returned to normal.

The planned bump in the road was a three weak vacation in Massachusetts where I was visiting my parents. Other than a four day trip to Foxwoods, I wasn't able to play during this time. The vacation, the losing streak, and the 3+ months of not playing have sort of slowed down what were somewhat ambitious plans back in May of 2004. Before moving forward, I intended to 'recover my lost money' during that time.

Right now, I'd say I'm about in the same spot I was a year ago except now I'm motivated to move forward rather than looking to take a break from the game.

I think my fourth year in poker was essentially a long rest. I expect my fifth year to be my most productive yet.

originally posted 5/30/05 on 2+2 Forums by Bryan Clark

Celebrities in our midst

Several chess bloggers, because of their chess exploits elsewhere, come to the blogosphere with built in cache and name recognition. GMs Polgar and Ashley, and Dennis Monokroussos come immediately to mind. The rest of us, through our own initiative, chose to emerge from the general masses ... or so I thought.

Yesterday I discovered that sporadic chess blogger Rich Tong (listed under other chess blogs as Rich Tong On Chess) is also an individual of some note. He was profiled (along with several others) in a Sunday New York Times article entitled "The Microsoft Millionaires Come of Age." Since the New York Times restricts their links after a couple of days, I've reprinted the relevant section below:
RICH TONG said he knew that it was time to leave Microsoft when he made a presentation to its chief executive, Steve Ballmer, and was no longer scared. "I realized that if I could confidently tell him how I thought the company should be organized, then I was qualified to run my own business," Mr. Tong said. In his 12 years there, he led several marketing teams. One helped raise sales of Windows to about $400 million a year, from $50 million, in two years.

After quitting Microsoft, he devoted himself and his capital to Ignition Partners, a venture capital firm he said he founded with five other "young retirees" from Microsoft and McCaw Cellular. "The six of us didn't have any V.C. experience at all," he recalled, "so if we didn't put our own money on the line, no one else would trust us with theirs."

The firm, which has about $750 million under management, has attracted well-known investors including Harvard and General Motors. It has also drawn some well-known partners, most recently John Connors, who retired as Microsoft's chief financial officer in March.

"Great people who have just left Microsoft or Amazon come to us and say: 'I'm ready for something new and fun. What have you got going?' " Mr. Tong said.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Internationale

A couple of new links from around the world:

First, a new Knight from Melbourne, Australia -- JavaManIssa. While he has only gotten serious about chess in past 4-5 months, he has already achieved a FICS standard rating over 1800 after 28 games. Obviously JavaMan has some inherent talent for the game. I dub him the Fossil Knight (unless some other Knight has beaten me to the punch).

Second, welcome Sjakkforum to the sidebar (yet another application of the "give a link, get a link" rule). You might need to bone up on your Norwegian to get the full benefit of this blog's posts. I'm trying to make the most of the diagrams and pictures.

Update: Seems that Tempo has previously named JavaMan the Prodigy Knight -- a good choice which I am happy to defer to.

Friday, May 27, 2005

The "Otherness" of Chess

Robert offers a short review of "The Chess Artist" by J.C. Hallman:
I read J.C. Hallman's "The Chess Artist", a good book about the "otherness" of chess. At first, I thought he was just going to be retailing all the "eccentric chessplayer" myths known to humankind. Modern chess gave him fertile soil, though, like the Republic of Kalmykia, where the local autocrat, now president of FIDE, the international chess federation, built an entire "Chess City" to convert people to the cause of chess. I forgave him the Iowa Writers Program tendency to draw deep meaning from things best rendered sans import, and ultimately decided he was a good, if wordy, egg. It was a fun read.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Capital, it fails us now

From "Chessboard artisans struggle to survive" on
Artisans in Amritsar make their livelihood by chiseling wood pieces into fine chess pieces, as they provide the world market with premium chessboards.

However, the artisans say it is the exporters who manipulate and run the Industry....

With the emergence of cheap plastic pieces and chessboards as well as increase in the cost of living, the artisans bear the brunt of rising prices with no economic aid from the government.

"We need to get at-least Rs 400 for our work. The electricity and raw material is so expensive. With VAT the input costs have shot up. The middlemen know we have no backup and they exploit us," said Harbhajan Singh Jabbal, a small manufacturer.
I certainly don't know much of anything about the chess set manufacturing industry in India. However, it strikes me that this article smacks of the typical plea: "we little guys are being harmed by the big evil capitalists; government please step in and help us." In this age of the internet, it seems to me that these artisans have the means to circumvent the middlemen and set up their own distribution channels -- websites, eBay, etc. The artisans are being squeezed because they have accepted the status-quo structure of their industry. Instead of appealing to the government for help, they need to step out of the comfortable and familiar and take the initiative to change the rules.

P.S. No prizes, but a nice round of applause, for identifying the reference in this post's title.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Chess blogging gets serious

GM Susan Polgar has joined the blogosphere!

Read about it here first!

Howard Goldowsky e-mailed me with details about some of his current writing projects While the actual articles will be published elsewhere (sites which are undoubtedly less prestigious than BCC Weblog, but importantly are willing to pay him), you can get an early heads up here. Amaze your friends at the club with your clairvoyance skills by correctly predicting Howard's article topics before they are published!
...I've been very hard at work on an eighteen page article I've been writing for ChessCafe.... The article is an amalgam of three things: A review of the forthcoming (June 1) DVD, GAME OVER: KASPAROV AND THE MACHINE, a quick look at computer chess and where it stands in relation to AI research, and a short interview with the manager of the team building the successor to Deep Blue.

Right on the heels of this article I will be working on an interview with Jen Shahade for the release of her new book, CHESS BITCH....

Just recently I completed my hunt for all known "chess novels", based on my personal subjective criteria. The count came to 48....

Towards winter, a friend and I hope to begin the process of self-publishing a book of my collected writing/interviews....

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The philosophical case against blitz

From "Stalemate" on Anything *wise* under the sun:
I hate the game of blitz not because I always lose, but it is an insult to chess when it is played rapidly. It can be likened to harsh, unthought, biased, angered decisions! Chess is a classic game that needs to be respected for its unimaginable possibilities in each and every step. The only way the purity and sanctity (literally) of the game can be maintained is by playing it slow, unless you really think fast, treating it as the very essence of your life. Think of each step as an important decision of your life, knowing quite well how a wrong move can change the entire scenario!

Friday, May 20, 2005

The key to chess improvement? Stuff!

Chase Cunningham, 14, will be heading off to Ottawa on the May long weekend for his second national youth chess competition and he will be the only Albertan his age in attendance....

Cunningham said it wasn't difficult to learn how to play chess, although he still reads up on it to keep his game sharp.

"Once you learn the moves it’s easy," he said. "You read books (on chess) and stuff."
Read "Chess-playing teen sets sights high" from the Airdrie (Alberta) Echo.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Chess Fashion II

Check out the pants on the guy to the right.

Opening Trepidation

There must undoubtedly be much anticipation in the chess community for this week's HB Global Chess Challenge. But for Daniel Tapia at A Patzer's Tale there is this queasy feeling of unease which must be overcome first.

... I had this sinking feeling in my stomach. I tried ... thinking of what was wrong but I couldn't figure it out.

And when I thought about my opening repertoire the sinking feeling got stronger. I was nervous about the HB Global and my lousy preparation. Choosing your opening is really about asking who you are ... a philosophical question. I've been in desperation mode the past few days thinking about what to play, but every ten minutes I change my mind.

Speaking of the HB Global Chess Challenge, Maurice Ashley joined the chess blogosphere just a few days ago. His first couple posts find him in Minneapolis setting the scene.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Beating my first master--Jason's tales from NYC

Today I did something that I have not been able to do in 15 years of tournament play, slightly more than 100 official tournaments.

Today I beat my first master in tournament play.

Some of my friends may be surprised to learn that I have never beaten a master before in a serious game. I have beaten near masters, I have drawn masters (including an IM), and I have been up several pieces against masters. Yet, give my opponent a 2200+ rating, and they always find a way to win or hold, sometimes with massive help from me.

Not today. Today I was prepared. I spent the weekend going over my opponent's games in chessbase, and I found an interesting line of the King's Indian 4 pawn attack that my opponent plays. This was going to be the battleground, I decided, so I practiced with Fritz to familiarize myself with the themes.

Since I am so proud, I am going to post the game with a few comments here. I am leaving out a lot, but I wanted to share how I prepared for this game and how being comfortable with the position and the themes of play led to my victory. Normally, this aggressive line for White would have scared me OTB, but Fritz showed me how to defend and counterattack without getting too nervous.

(White) Simon, J vs. (Black) Rihel, J.

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 g6 3.Nc3 Bg7 4.e4 d6 5.f4 0-0 6.Nf3 Na6 7.e5 Nd7 8.h4 c5 9.d5 dxe5 10.h5 exf4 11.Bxf4 e5

This was the position I found in Chessbase, and on which I spent a couple of hours. In that game, though, Black erred with 11.... Nf6, which was followed by the white error 12. Ne5? That pawn could be taken on h5, but black missed it. I wasn't willing to play the less good move in the hopes my opponent would blunder the same way again!

12.Bg5? f6

Ah, a mistake already. I knew that the best line was 12. dxe6 e.p. Re8 13. hxg6 Rxe6 14. Be2 hxg6, but I figured my opponent had a 50% chance of moving the Bishop instead. So far, my preparation is going great!

13.Be3 e4 14.Nh4

Whoops. I only analyzed the line following 14. Nd2. I was on my own now. But the important point is that the themes are similar in all the lines, so I still felt prepared.

14... Ne5 15.hxg6 hxg6 16.Qd2? Bg4!?

I saw immediately that g5 wins the Knight on h4, but it looked scary to me. Fritz shows me after the game that this was nothing to fear, and taking the knight is a game ending move. Still, my pressure is getting bigger with my move, and I felt safe and comfortable. But, come on, Jason! Over-respecting a master's desperate trick is probably why they beat me so often.

17.Be2 Bxe2 18.Qxe2 Nd3+ 19.Kd1 Qe8 20.g4 f5 21.gxf5 Nab4

A move that throws my small advantage away. Fritz now likes any of the following-- Rg1, Ng6, or Qh2. But after

22.Qd2 gxf5 23.Qg2 Qh5+

I am winning handily now. Black's king is almost totally denuded, but it is the White monarch that is in trouble.

24.Ne2 Nxb2+ 25.Kc1 N4d3+ 26.Kb1 Nxc4

Threatening the cute Knight mate on a3

27.Bc1 Qh6

Other moves win, but I was getting excited. The point is that BxQ loses to Na3 mate. I am also threatening QxB followed by Na3 mate. Not just a master win, but one with a queen sac, please.

28.a3 Qb6+ 29.Kc2 Nxc1 White resigns

If not mate, then all the material comes off, with an extra exchange and many pawns for Black.

And I had my first master win!! Maybe I can make expert by the end of the summer yet.

Something to look forward to

In NEW YORK Magazine Next Week ...
Mr. Times and His Knights of the Chess Board by Mark Jacobson

Can one streetwise coach and a virtual United Nations of kids from Harlem win a national chess championship?
Update (5/18): Here is the article. (Hat Tip: The Kenilworthian)

Monday, May 16, 2005

Mine are bigger than yours

The Burlington (Iowa) Public Library is planning to install a giant outdoor chess set. While you still have to wait a bit before you can play on it, you can attend a lecture to learn about how the pieces are being made.
John Foss, a retired OB/GYN and accomplished woodcarver, is making the pieces for the board. He will discuss his designs for the outdoor game board at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Grimes/Salter Room Public Library, Fourth and Columbia.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Stories from New York Part I (or Striving for Expert)

Hey everyone,

In an effort to keep this nice blog going, I am going to pitch in my own efforts here. Many of you may remember that I recently moved to New York City for about a year and will be returning to Boston in the Fall. One of the great things about living in New York is the ability to play quality chess five or six days a week, if so inclined (and so rich). For me, that means I can play about 3 or 4 times a month, but I can pick and choose when I play more easily.

Since there are a large number of masters and experts here in New York, I have made it a goal of mine to make the expert class level before I come back to Boston. My blog efforts will be the story of my quest to make expert.

In Boston, I hovered between 1850-1900 for about 6 years, with little time to devote to chess. Now, in New York, I am hovering between 1900-1950, so I can tell I am improving (I officially cracked 1900 for the first time here in New York!). Those masters keep beating me though-- I have managed a couple of draws, but nothing more. Over the course of the next few weeks, I'll share some stories about playing IM Jay Bonin to some very interesting positions, as well as nice efforts against some FMs. But my fate is as a ying and yang player-- beating a 2100 one round only to blunder a piece against a 1500 the next. My excuse is that I like exciting games, but it probably means that I am lazy and careless over the board.

I'll share one fun story just to get this all started. I played a two tournament weekend a few months ago-- G30 on Saturday, followed by G60 on Sunday. In the Saturday tournament, I was paired with a sour old 2100 + player who I had swindled in a game 30 some weeks before. Well known as an angry man, his face was contorted with an absolute desire to crush me for my previous "lucky" game. We played a very quirky King's Indian that I like, and I sacrificed the exchange, quite dubiously, I must add. But G30 can lead to some crazy stuff. A few moves later, I sacrificed my whole other rook, mostly because we both had minutes left on the clock. The beauty of this rook sac is that it loses-- unless he actually takes that silly castle. I generated a tremendous attack, and with about 30 seconds each, I mated him in the open board. This led to a nice little scene.

He SMACKS all the pieces across the board into my face. The TD sees all the commotion and throws him out of the tournament. I've seen worse, so I took it in stride, finished a good tournament and won the under 2000 prize (which just barely paid my entry fee, of course!)

The great part of this story is that in the G60 on Sunday, I get paired with Angry Man again (they keep letting him come back, but his behavior doesn't change, as we will see.) He is not happy to see me, and we refuse to shake each other's hands. Before the round starts, I get up to use the bathroom, only to return to find he has started my clock early! Anything to annoy me, I guess. In the end, I must have the psychological edge-- I beat him for a third time, this time quite easily.

That would be the end of this story, but in the next round, Angry Man manages to get tossed out of the tournament again! He got a very low pairing against some small kid, who quickly lost material but played out the game. Yes, we have all been annoyed by kids playing out the game to mate, but they are still learning, so I don't mind. With mate in 4 on the board, Angry Man leans over, gritting his teeth, and spews out, "Resign, motherF***er," and then promptly finds himself heading home, kicked out again. I wonder if he thinks about why he got thrown out during that long trek home? I doubt it-- his behavior doesn't change.

Next time, maybe I'll post one or two nice games I've played against the titled players, and maybe one of my blunderfests, too. I also hope to encourage other Boston Chess Club players to post similar types of blog entries. My future efforts will be shorter, I promise.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

A Remarkably Successful Failure

Today, BCC Weblog reaches its six month anniversary. It seems an appropriate time to assess the project and its future.

The title of this post reflects my overall view of this effort. In so many ways, the blog has exceeded my wildest expectations:
  • On 2004 BCC Championship, a day with 25-30 visitors was cause for excitement and celebration (even though, it probably just meant that one of the club members was having a slow day at work and passing the time by periodically clicking on the same link in their favorites list). Today, a 25-hit day on BCC Weblog would be cause for concern.
  • I remember looking longingly at certain blogs' Technorati stats, something like 45 links from 32 sources. Now, BCC Weblog is one of those blogs.
  • I had originally hoped that I might find a few other chess blogs to cross-link with (thanks to chess_underground, who was the first). A look at the sidebar shows that this goal was met and exceeded over and over again.
  • I thought I might get lucky enough to "meet" some new chess friends. Thanks to the blog and the Knights Errant in particular I now have chess friends in North Carolina, Hawaii, Montana, Illinois, the Netherlands, Belgium, California, Romania, India and too many other places to list them all (my apologies if I didn't specifically mention your location).
Notwithstanding all this good news, I must nevertheless conclude that this project has been an utter failure. While 2004 BCC Championship was always intended to be my blog, BCC Weblog was not. It had grander objectives -- to be "An interactive space for members of the Boylston Chess Club to share any/all chess-related information." I'm sorry to say that the BCC membership never embraced this vision. To date, only three other members have signed up to post on the blog and only one has done so (though not recently -- with good reason, I might add). I certainly offer my thanks to Bob Oresick who provided several interesting and informative posts. [I might also take this opportunity to thank Howard Goldowsky for his Guest Blogging efforts. Howard holds the record for the post with the most comments -- don't worry if the comment link says "zero"; click on it anyways (Haloscan deletes your comment counts after 3 months unless you pay them $12/yr).] We made efforts to market the blog to the members -- through flyers, announcements at events and e-mails -- but to little avail.

So where do we go from here? I'm convinced that there is enough good material out there to continue as is indefinitely. However, as you can imagine, this project has been consuming a significant amount of my time. In addition, while I still enjoy this weblog, I think I have long since passed the steepest part of the learning and personal growth curve. Therefore, I have concluded that at a minimum I need to focus much less time on BCC Weblog and hence, more time on other things.

Given this, it should come as no surprise that I have seriously considered shutting down the blog. In fact, I was contemplating just such an idea when Don informed me of his intent to close shop at Mandelamaza. However, I'm just not sure that I'm quite ready to call it day. Instead, I think I'm just going to post more infrequently for awhile. To be honest, I don't yet know what "infrequently" actually means, e.g., I could cut down by ~60% and still post everyday!? As time passes, perhaps I will find new enthusiasm for the project or maybe just drift off into oblivion...we'll see.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Chess Blues

Some may argue that the history of blues is one of musicians, regions, and movements rather than something so business-oriented as a record label. Chess recordChess Records, however, is not just some record label. It's a sound in itself --

-- A sound which, for many, epitomizes the best of Chicago blues, and maybe even the best electric blues has to offer. Through the recordings of Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Howlin' Wolf, and many other talents great and small, the Chicago-based label and its subsidiaries (Checker and Argo, later renamed Cadet) did an enormous amount to amplify the blues, record some of its greatest talents, and bring the form into the modern era.

These are achievements that few could have foreseen when the label was founded by Leonard and Phil Chess in the 1940s....


Daily Chess Puzzles


Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Escape From Reality

Aven Piramide encounters two groups of people in the Philippines -- "guso" farmers and chess players. He thinks better of the former than the latter.
As I cared to listen to the real sentiments of the "guso" farmers, I came to grip with certain realities. I found out that they were a surprise mixture of professionals, fishermen and farmers who felt that this government had ceased to take any move for the peoples' welfare.

If life were a chess game, they were checked mate. They had somehow lost faith in the functional utility of government such that their only recourse was to bond together and work from dusk to dawn, hoping that by their enterprise they would have something to sustain their lives with.

The men who surrounded the chess players were not dissimilar to the "guso" group in so far as their estimation of our government was concerned although, their approach varied. Instead of addressing their worsening living condition, they, by playing chess, hoped that they could not notice the hours passing by. Tragically, those men chose to escape from reality.

Chess and Baseball IV

Phil Taylor at AAAA Fantasy Sports describes "the ... Oakland [A's] offense [as] scoring less than a chess club member at the prom..."

Monday, May 09, 2005

No chess here


Chess Novel

At The Review Corner, a post on "The Eight" by Katherine Neville:
....It is the story of a legendary chess service, owned by Charlemagne, that is said to contain the secret to a mystery of great power, a mystery that fuses elements of the Grail Myth with alchemy and Hermeticism. The quest for this chess service serves as the driving force behind the book, and motivates the two protagonists, Catherine Velis and Mireille de Remy. Apparently, the quest for the chess service plays out like a chess game, with two sides, black and white, and each character a piece. Therefore, the main struggle of the book is for Catherine and Mireille, pawns both, to make it to the other side of the board and be made queens....

Anand's Knight

Satish Talim began the MDLM program today and has now been officially inducted as the newest Knight Errant. I have named him in honor of India's greatest chess player.

Chess Crime IV

From Crime Reports for Akron, Ohio:
Burglaries Reported for May 02, 2005

Occurred 830 Avon St on 4/29 bet 4:45-10:00pm Unk entered by unknown means MISSING: misc chess boards, misc dvd's, misc vhs tapes

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Saturday, May 07, 2005

What y'all talkin' about?

Colton Bouse, 9, took the top place in the beginner's category.... Bouse, who learned to play chess by joining the Knights at the beginning of the year, said he practices by playing with family members. The third-grade student was told he could play against himself for practice, but he said he has no idea how someone would do that.

"You would know every move," he said. "I don't see how you could do it."
Read "School uses chess to improve students skills" from The Galveston County (TX) Daily News.

The Price Is Right

A list of free, public domain e-books of chess problems...

Hat Tip: Praveen's Journal

Friday, May 06, 2005

Forget about tactical training

In Brunei, they use a different set of skills to master the royal game.
Some two hundred students from Secondary One to Secondary Five of the said school attended yesterday's anti-drugs talk as part of activities that included an art competition for Primary students, singing, story-telling, traditional games, a CHMS Art exhibition as well as a book and educational fair.

In the afternoon, a chess competition was held in which a Chess Master used telepathy to challenge opponents in the games.
Read "Educating Students On Dangers Of Drugs" from BruneiDirect.Com.

Stating the obvious

This reporter must have felt out of her element when she was handed this assignment.
A chess tournament doesn't look like a basketball tournament. There is no running, no wall of screaming fans, no hoops.
Read "Chess team at Park Center making their move" from the Brooklyn Park (MN) Sun Post.

Stop CUI (Chess under the influence)

This gives new meaning to the idea of taking a bathroom break before your game -- from the Chico (CA) Enterprise Record:
DURHAM -....the Durham Unified School District board of trustees...will be considering a range of drug and alcohol policies including one that would extend the random testing to students taking part in other extracurricular activities.

If that policy is passed the district would randomly test members of the campus Chess Club in the same way football, basketball or track team members are tested.

Groups specifically mentioned on the extracurricular activities list that could be subject to such testing includes: Academic Decathlon, Art Club, Associated Student Body officers and commissioners, Block D, California Scholastic Federation, Chess Club, Class officers, Drama Club, Future Farmers of America, Interact, [and] Student representatives to the high school site council and to the Board of Trustees.

Students in these groups, as well as the athletes who test positive for alcohol and drugs, are immediately removed from the team or group, but the policy includes ways for the offenders to earn their way back into participation.

Band members can also be tested but since band is a class, students with positive tests won't be ousted from required performances.
I guess I better not reminisce in this blog about the bus ride back from the 1979 National High School Chess Championships.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The best thing about chess

From "Chess rules at school" in the Hampton (NH) Union:
....Spencer was not immune to the less-abstract pleasures of the game. His favorite part is "watching the opponent’s face when you beat him."

If anyone thought chess players were less competitive than athletes in more physical sports, they would quickly be told otherwise by the students competing. More than anything, "winning" was mentioned as the best part of the game.

Money, it’s a gas

Apparently, most people in Idaho play chess just for fun -- this recent article in the Pocatello Idaho State Journal is entitled "ISU to host chess tournament with prizes." [my italics]

Selling education through chess

From an advertisement in the New York Times for Columbia University's Strategic Communications program:
Columbia Univ. Ad
Thanks to Amy Bowllan.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

No news is good news

Here's a Scholastic Chess story from the Chicago area that probably won't be covered over at The 64 Square Jungle. This is not exactly the kind of publicity that Chess-in-Schools needs.
AURORA -- A former West Aurora High School assistant chess coach and registered sex offender was arrested Wednesday on charges of possession of child pornography, police said.
If I'm not mistaken, Wayne and Garth hail from Aurora, Illinois.

Read "Former chess coach charged with child porn" from The Chicago Tribune.

Don't mess with Mother Blogger!

Apparently J'adoube has learned the hard way that playing around with things like your Blogger URL can be fraught with danger. While his blog still comes up under the original address, apparently he is no longer able to update it. Therefore, a current version of J'adoube is only available under this new URL - Knights, please update your links to this new address when you have a chance.

Update (12:25pm): Don't change those J'adoube links quite yet. It looks like Jim may have fixed his problem. Perhaps he can rename the new URL, Son of J'adoube.

Speaking of links, I've noticed that several Knight's listings of fellow Errant ones are a bit out of date. In a number of cases the newest inductees have yet to be listed. It's certainly not my desire to be the sidebar policeman for the Knights Errant, but I do think it is important to the community that the Knights take the time every now and then to keep up with changes, new inductions and defrockings.

And while we're still on the links topic... I've cleaned up and updated the other chess blogs post again, so you'll find a few new additions there. I was amused to see that our old "friend" (?!) Jose Ribeiro has moved on from chess pieces to chess boards.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Let's see Fritz do this

A new take on the annotated game...

Chess - Hip?

It doesn't seem to me that the profile of chess with the general population has improved at all in the last few years. What does make the news -- Bobby Fischer in prison, FIDE incompetence, a muddled World Championship situation, Kasparov's retirement -- doesn't necessarily show the game in its most positive light. Nonetheless, the guy from This Place is Dead Anyway believes that chess is going to be one of the next big trends:
...chess is soon to be the newest "Manhattan trend."

...chess never really went away, what with those junkies in Washington Square Park playing their speed games, and the Star Trek geeks sitting in the chess shops on Thompson St. all day gambling the money they earned working overtime for the high school "A.V. club." We all know, however, that chess has never really been considered much of a "hip" pastime. As such, it's only really thrived behind closed doors, in dark, dingy rooms that smell like stale cheese. But the world around us has really changed in recent years, as have our sensibilities. Intellectual activities are no longer shunned as they once were. And we don't mind the smell of stale cheese like we used to. Chess, the ultimate intellectual pastime..., is thus bound to make a comeback.

....You'll see, chess is surely gonna come back "in style." .... Soon, "underground" chess clubs will start to pop up all over the place. Who knows--maybe they're already here.

Take my pawn, please

Angelle Trieste discusses the meaning and history of the word "gambit."
Amy wasn't very impressed with Ryan's opening gambit: spilling his drink to get her attention.

Monday, May 02, 2005

The Game of Love

People say
love is like a game of chess,
why does it feels like hangman?
Read "In Solitude" from dot sot.

Playground Chess


Please, no more chess!

We all like to wax poetic about the benefits of chess in school. Inevitably, however, there are those individuals for whom it is less than an enriching experience.
I have hated chess since elementary school, when I was in the gifted program and one feature was a weekly chess tournament with a big chart on the wall keeping track of everyone's victories. From first through sixth grade, I never won a chess game, ever. It became a weekly exercise in humiliation or futility or something similarly crappy. I won my first chess game ever in sixth grade, against a third grader. Even that sucked.
A sad story to be sure, though I wouldn't consider it a wholesale indictment of scholastic chess. I'm sure many of us could share similar experiences about scholastic sports.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

A fianchetto with your meal

'Basic Instinct' actress Sharon Stone surprised diners and staff at a London restaurant when she started playing chess before the meal and refused to let waitress[es] move the board as they tried to serve the food.


Improve through memorization

Qaundoman makes the case for improving your by memorizing games of great masters.
I recommend that, if you are serious about getting good at chess, to memorize all the games you like the most. Every serious chessplayer ought to memorize at least 50 Morphy games and at least 50 Capablanca games--these are mandatory and foundational.

Chess Dancing

Along with ballet folklorico, the evening will feature lyrical, jazz, salsa and swing performances to music by everyone from Jewel and Jennifer Lopez to Peggy Lee and Cole Porter.

One segment will depict a world championship, complete with dancers dressed as chess pieces and a lighted chessboard on the floor.
Read "Students dance to the beat of Mexico" from the San Diego Union Tribune.