Sunday, July 31, 2005

Jason in New York -- Making Children Cry

My blundering woes are continuing, and I don't know what to do about it. One of the problems with all these terrible blunders I have had, aside from losing all kinds of rating points, is the blow they are dealing to my chess psyche. I have tried following various suggestions, including an almost paranoid look at every move, but this often backfires on me. Instead of playing strong moves, I have started to become timid in my play-- always searching for blunders, always second guessing tough moves.

In lieu of strong moves, I have become a chess cheap trickster, a swindling bum. This weekend, I played in a 4 rounder, with a reasonable time control of 30/90 SD/1. I had some tough losses against 2 masters, in positions that a better player may have held to a draw. But the real feat of the weekend was making two kids cry. In the first game, UP A PIECE, I hung a whole rook, flat out, to a one-mover. I then went into super swindle mode, and I tricked the kid with 2 minutes hanging on my clock, and my position as good as dead-- he needed to take a perpetual check, but instead he tried to sidestep it, and got mated. I don't think that he would have cried in normal circumstances, but when an (ex!)1900 player sneaks off the hook by some slippery cheapos, it can be too much for a little guy to handle.

Which brings me to my last game of the night, when I was playing a young girl. Having a lets-resign-now position, I must have annoyed her to no end playing out the game to mate. But there is a certain trick I have seen with 2 rooks vs. 1 rook in the past, and it always surprises me how often it happens! With a stalemated king, my last rook leaped into play and chased the king around with infinite checks. The odd thing is that she could have broken the stalemate in a number of clever ways, but instead she got so upset that she could hardly continue playing. After making some mistakes, she let me get into a totally drawn position (and made me play it out for more than an hour-AND-made me feel like a heel). I think as I was touching my rook, some slime was oozing off my hands onto the ignoble piece!
What has happened to me? My first win against a master came only a few weeks ago, and my rating was peaking. Now, 1100s, 1500s, and 1600s are beating me down, as I blunder and blunder and blunder away. My only wins come from Grinch-like tricks.

Action Chess


Saturday, July 30, 2005

A place where everyone knows your...


TED DANSON is confident he will finally beat his former CHEERS co-star WOODY HARRELSON at chess, thanks to his latest film role.

cheersDanson is playing real-life chess expert DAVID McENULTY in [a] forthcoming US TV movie KNIGHTS OF THE SOUTH BRONX, and he sneakily intends to enlist McEnulty's expertise in a bid to thrash his opponent Harrelson in an online game.

He says, "I tried to whoop Woody during the Cheers years because he could beat me at everything else.

"I'm going to play him over the internet, because he's in Hawaii, but David McEnulty will be sitting next to me."

Friday, July 29, 2005


While I've mentioned GM Chabanon's Blogger Chess site before, I recently discovered that he has actually published a "network" of chess-related blogs. In addition to shabonsky vs. bloggers, you may want to check out:

Chess Report - This blog focuses on recent international events, current chess personalities (from the Super-GM set) and some game/position analysis.

Take the Rook - Jean Luc says this one is about Chess Life. It seems to cover his chess related travels and events. Like the others it includes many interesting photographs. Here's a picture of Chabanon playing Karpov.

Moogy - This one is supposedly about the Style (or Art) of Chess. While some of the images are chess-related, many others are not. Most are very cool nonetheless.

I'm unsure whether any of these are ongoing enterprises as each blog's most recent post is from June.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

How did you find out about the Club?

Please check one:

__ Mentioned by a fellow chess player
__ Flyer at a local tournament
__ Everyone in the blogosphere knows about the Boylston Chess Club!

As BCC Weblog began to build a readership in the chess blogosphere, it occurred to me that over the long term it might provide branding and marketing benefits for the club. While the club is certainly well known in the New England chess community, I doubt chess players in other parts of the country (or other countries, for that matter) knew much, if anything, about it. It wasn't that long before I received comments and e-mails along the lines of "Next time I'm in Boston, I'll try to stop by." Of course to date, we haven't seen a great influx of blog readers in our tournaments -- though I suspect that Howard Goldowsky's recent appearance was in some way motivated by his occasional participation in this enterprise.

Anyway, I received an e-mail from Chessdad64 of The 64 Square Jungle fame. It turns out that he and his son, Chessdude64, are traveling to Sturbridge, Massachusetts for this weekend's 35th Annual Continental Open. After the tournament they will be staying in the Boston area for a few days and have decided to stop by the club for the Tuesday Night Blitz. I'm looking forward to meeting them.

This will be the first tangible marketing benefit of the blog. It will be interesting to see if this turns out to be a one-time event or the beginning of a trend.

As an aside, Chessdad64's visit means that I will be at the club for three nights in a row (Mon - Reubens-Landey Rd. 4; Tue - Blitz; Wed - Adjourned game from Reubens-Landey Rd. 3). Needless to say, my wife doesn't view this as consistent with my usual one-night a week chess habit. After eighteen wonderful years, I hope she shows me some compassion and leniency during the court proceedings :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Summer Cleaning

I just completed a major clean-up of my links. Here is a summary of the changes:
  • Moved from Sidebar to Other Chess Blogs - Inactive: A Patzer's Quest -- haven't heard from Fraktal since 5/25.

  • Moved within Other Chess Blogs to Inactive: Globular's Chess Blog, The Knightmare, Chess Fanatic, Bill's Correspondence Chess Diary, Jose Ribeiro (for newer readers, read about the Saga of Jose) -- none of these blogs have posted since May.

  • Moved from Other Chess Blogs to Sidebar: Chess News and Events -- give a link, get a link rule

  • Added to Other Chess Blogs: Ginsta's Chess Blog; Removed from Other Chess Blogs: A Patzer's Tale -- 404

  • I also created a separate post for Other Knights Errant which includes completed, delayed and abandoned efforts. Salcido announced his intent to abandon and Harmless has not been heard from since 5/26. Scitcat seems to have gone 404.

Taking a rest after a tough game


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tactics? I don't need no tactics!

Over at Caissa's Confabulations, Quandoman offers an anti-De La Maza rant. I'm sure his point about internet ratings being inflated is true since I've heard it before. Interestingly, I'm one of the few exceptions with an OTB rating 200+ points above my internet ratings (though I don't play online as often as most people).

He also coins a new name for followers of the quest - De La Mazites.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Pinhead Wiki

I recall reading an article about how Wikpedia -- the open source Encyclopedia -- seems like a really cool idea (e.g. anyone can post about anything) until you realize that free expression is a two-way street (e.g. anyone can delete whatever you post). In practice, this article noted, a cadre of "Wiki Geeks" had arisen and appointed themselves the guardians of what is worthy of inclusion in Wikpedia. Too bad I can't remember where I read it or I would provide a link.

Why am I raising this topic? Well, it turns out that a couple of Knights are trying to include an entry about the Knights Errant in Wikpedia but the "Geeks" are fighting back. I encourage all members of the chess blogosphere to leave a comment in support of the Knights on the "Votes for Deletion" page.

Here are all the related links:

Friday, July 22, 2005

Poker is a sport

Here's more food for thought related to the chess is a sport debate. This article from the Louisville (KY) Courier-Journal considers whether poker ought to be considered a sport. Here are a few of the juicier quotes:
"I think if you start calling poker a sport, then you might have to call the CEO at Chrysler an athlete because his job is just sitting and thinking and doing strategy,"...

"It's very, very competitive -- and it's an endurance test as well. It's mental and physical endurance. If you think it's easy to sit there for 13, 13-½ hours for five to six days in a row, you're sadly mistaken."...

"We consider chess a sport, and if you're going to consider chess a sport, then poker is a sport,"...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The alternative? A life of crime

At the Castle Chess Camp in University Park, Pennsylvania, 8-year old Dinkar Ahuja was asked why he liked chess:
"I like it because sometimes you're really bored. It actually gives you something to do," Dinkar said. "And you win trophies."
Read "Chess players learn all the right moves" from the Centre Daily Times.

Monday, July 18, 2005


Brandon at Vox Clamantis In Deserto was watching his chess instructor, a GM, play against one of his stronger students. Based on this, he concludes that:
Watching a 2500 play a 2000 is like watching a professional runner compete against a paraplegic.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

In case bidding isn't exciting enough...

From "eBay to offer community gaming section" on Netimperative:
eBay is to launch a new service that allows its members to compete in online skill games for cash prizes.

The online auctioneer has partnered with SkillJam, a gaming subsidiary of Fun technologies, to offer its users a selection of multiplayer skill games.

Starting in October, SkillJam will offer a selection of co-branded games on eBay, which will be advertised within relevant areas of eBay's online marketplace.

For example, a user looking to buy a chess board may see a pop up inviting them to play a game of online chess on eBay's gaming section.
I'll give you $10 for your knight on d6. What do you say?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

How soon we forget

The BCC continues its series of Legends of Chess tournaments with this coming weekend's Octads. Having long since used up Chess Legends that most people have actually heard of -- e.g., Lasker, Capablanca, Philidor, etc. -- this tournament is being named in honor of Phillip Stamma.

Who was Phillip Stamma? A quick web search uncovered the following facts:
  • Born in 1705
  • From Aleppo, Syria
  • In addition to being a chessplayer, he was an interpreter of Oriental languages.
  • In 1747, he played a world championship match against Philidor in London. Philidor played Black in every game and offered draw odds to Stamma. Philidor won the match +8 -1 =1 (+8 -2 with draw odds).
Perhaps we should rename the series the Obscure Legends of Chess!?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

GM Quentin Tarantino

After I posted about his GM vs. The Blogosphere game, GM Chabanon was kind enough to stop by and leave a comment. Hey, a Grandmaster has read the blog! That's pretty cool.

Speaking of Jean Luc, he made a recent post drawing a connection between chess and a Quentin Tarantino movie. Little did he know that we covered similar ground awhile back.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Jason in New York -- going backwards

Anyone have a solution to the bad blunders? It has been hurting my chess lately, as I have lost 9 of my last 10 games, and lost 70 rating points.

At the beginning of the summer, I decided that I was going to study chess hard and build up my rating to 2000 by summer's end, when I move back to Boston. Well, as I have discussed here before, it started out well, taking out my first master and winning several other important games. Then disaster struck, and I can't seem to win a game. Today, I blundered up a pawn against a master, and then I did the same thing against a 1000 rated opponent. That is the worst loss I have had in about 12 years, and very lopsided compared to the quality of my first game!!

The worst part of this whole thing is that I have been losing games outright in which I am objectively better, often up significant material. In the last 9 games, I have: blundered (i.e. dropped a piece or worse) a clear pawn up 5 times, blundered a clear PIECE up once, won a lucky game, and lost a tough struggle with a master. I know that everyone blunders, but it seems that I am losing superior positions more often than other people rated 1900-2000, and certainly the masters do not lose material so often and so freely.

What is the secret to winning "won" games? What am I doing wrong? More importantly-- what are the habits of good players who win their "winning" games? Also, is it better to be calm or nervous? I am very clam late in the games, but I feel that maybe I am too relaxed and therefore careless. Thoughts?

Friday, July 08, 2005

Great minds battle over the chessboard

Steinitz vs. Lasker, Alekhine vs. Capablanca, Karpov vs. Kasparov? No!
In 1933, two of the greatest minds that ever lived sat down at a table and played a game of chess. In this battle of brain power, renowned physicist Albert Einstein defeated fellow scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer, who would go on to help create the world's first atomic bomb.

This Saturday, a re-creation of that match will be broadcast - and analyzed - at Chess Day, an all-day affair at [the] Princeton Public Library.
Read "Chess will be king for a day at Princeton Library" from The Princeton (NJ) Packet.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

On the Internet, your mistakes are forever

A week back Dennis Monokroussos pointed out that occasional BCC Weblog guest blogger Howard Goldowsky erred in a letter which was published in a Chessbase item on the Adams-Hydra match:
The second amusing point was the claim that sprinters top out at 10 m.p.h. We humans are slow, but not that slow: even top marathoners exceed 10 m.p.h., while the sprint record is at least 27 m.p.h....
Well, it just so happens that I decided to play in the BCC Summer Open this weekend (I almost never play weekend tournaments anymore due to family commitments) instead of hanging out with a gaggle of relatives on Cape Cod. Who decided to play in their first BCC tournament in many years? That's right, Howard Goldowsky. It was great to add an in person connection to what has been to date a virtual acquaintance only.

In any case, I mentioned Dennis' post to Howard and he provided the following background: According to Howard, he had dashed off the letter to Chessbase and never expected it to be published (certainly not in the company of Nunn, Levy, Sonas, and Mig). He admits that he didn't check his facts on the speed of sprinter but just threw in a number to make his analogy. It didn't take long for him to receive his first (irate) e-mail indicating his error. As a result, Howard sent off an e-mail to Chessbase asking them to correct (or remove) his letter, but they have not responded. He said that he is continuing to receive e-mails on the error but in spite of repeated attempts to contact Chessbase he remains unable to correct it.

The moral that I take away from this saga is to assume that anything you write can be published by someone else on the web forever. Write with care.

On a separate note, Howard and I got to meet over the board in the second round. I will try to analyze the game and post it here soon.