Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Spring Training

"I like baseball because it requires highly specialized skill and strategic moves by either side, similar to chess but without the dorks." - Alan Gable at Life and Taxes

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Caption Contest XIV

Rocky Rook wrote: "... this would be a good picture for a caption contest over at the Boylston CC blog." OK, here goes...

Here is the caption from the Associated Press:
Betty Bledsoe of Indianapolis, holds a box containing daily medications for her children as they receive a chess lesson in her Indianapolis home Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007. All 12 of Bledsoe's children receive Medicaid for various disabilities and she worries about Gov. Mitch Daniels plan to automate the processing of food stamps, Medicaid and other benefits. Daniels is leading the way among cash-strapped governors who are contracting out services states historically have handled themselves.
Post your caption in the comments.

Dialectical Chess History

At Kino Fist, a discussion on the seduction of chess:
The history of the 20th century is the history of the strategically necessary misrepresentation of chess. The defeat of left-wing politics, of reason and seriality, and its replacement by the flows of capital and the madness of markets informs us that whichever side chess was on, the game itself has lost, and lost badly, relegated to the status of whimsical pastime for the terminally intellectually aspirational, the insane and the incarcerated. The hustlers that sit in Washington Square Park, playing for the odd five bucks against business-folk on their lunch-break are the last remnants of the chess vanguard. But how did chess get beaten so badly? One solution to this question lies in the wilful misunderstanding of chess, by both its defenders and its critics, as primarily a game of war, and not as a game of seduction. The denial of the seductive qualities of chess is by extension a refusal any longer to acknowledge or even contemplate the seductive elements of the avant-garde as a whole.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Chess in Belmont

Belmont High School
performing arts company
CHESS The Musical
music by Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus of ABBA
lyrics by Tim Rice based on an idea by Tim Rice
Director ~ Liz Smith
Choreographers ~ Liz Smith, Leigh Lucey and John Duffy
Vocal Director ~ Jonathan Eldridge
Orchestra Director ~ Bridgid Bibbens

March 1, 2, 3, 2007 at 7:30 pm
and a matinee Sat. March 3 at 2:30 pm (with alternate cast)
BHS Auditorium

This Rock Musical premiered in London in May 1986 and made its Broadway debut in 1988. It's a tale of forbidden love, Cold War Intrigue and betrayal...

The game of Chess is used as a metaphor for romantic rivalries and the US-Soviet rivalry. The main characters form a love triangle: Freddie Trumper, the ill-mannered American challenger, Anatoly Sergievsky, the intense but charming Russian Champion who plans to defect to the West, and Florence Vassy, the Hungarian-born American Chess Second who must choose between love and patriotism. And the KGB and CIA are watching every move...

From Bangkok to Budapest, the players, lovers, politicians and spies all struggle to get the upper hand. The songs, "One Night in Bangkok" and "I Know him so Well" went on to become international hits. During three different scenes in the musical, the stage becomes a giant chess board, and members of the company become human chess pieces, moving through Four chess games created by International Chess Master Joe Fang (Belmont alumnus Class of 1977).

Tickets $12 general admission | $8 for students and seniors
Tickets available through Tickets Hotline (617-993-5844)
e-mail ( or at
Champions Sporting Goods in Belmont Center
& Ooh La La Fudge 381 Trapelo Road

For more details, please visit the website:

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Amateur Team East Photos

Bob Oresick has posted an album of pictures from the 2007 US Amateur Team (East) Championship. The photos include the Boston University team which took first place for teams under 2100, the Christiansen/MacIntyre team which took 2nd place overall, the G8 Predecessors who were unable to defend their 2006 Championship, and several other teams which featured Boylston/Boston area players.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

New chess tools

Susan Polgar on the MSA data program - useful for USCF members only.

Atomic Patzer on the Yahoo! Chess Blogs Search Pipe - what do you smoke with it?


FM Paul MacIntyre reports that his team, representing the Boylston Chess Club, took second place in last weekend's US Amateur Team Championship (East) in New Jersey -- not quite as impressive as last year's team, but not too shabby.

He didn't mention the names of the other team members, but if you know them leave a comment.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Speaking of bishops...

One of the diagonal movers is terrorizing the US investment management industry:
While full-fledged investigations are under way into the pipe bombs sent to industry shops last month and a string of earlier threatening letters, the key to thwarting future attacks may be in decoding "the Bishop."

Some speculate the culprit could be from the industry, but federal authorities are tight-lipped about their progress in the investigation and their profiling of the person, or persons, responsible. However, observers say there are likely some distinguishing characteristics to be on the lookout for to help unmask the Bishop, the name used by the individual who sent the packages.

Last month packages containing explosive devices and threatening letters were sent via U.S. mail to an American Century facility in Kansas City and Janus in Denver. The Janus package was forwarded to the Chicago office of Perkins Wolf McDonnell, a brokerage and advisory firm with which it does business. Both parcels were defused.

The pipe-bomb packages were the latest in a string of threats by the Bishop sent to financial institutions. Past letters contained references to the Unabomber, Theodore Kaczynski, and D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo as well as demands that firms manipulate stock prices to equal $6.66. They also discussed kidnappings and killing.
From "Who Is the Mysterious Fund-Bombing Bishop?" at Ignites.

Related article

The perfect name for chess

"Central Catholic school is famous for chess," said Bishop Edmond Carmody.
From "Game of royalty popular with area kids" at the Corpus Christi (TX) Caller Times (bold italics are mine).

Friday, February 16, 2007

Wamala claims police verbal abuse, racism

From the Boston Herald:

NASHUA, N.H. - A former Lowell High School math teacher claims city detectives called him racist, derogatory names while urging him to admit to sexually assaulting three young women.

Prosecutors and police dispute the claims made by Severine Wamala, 45, of Nashua.

Wamala faces 34 felony sexual assault charges, each of which carries up to 10 to 20 years in prison. He has been jailed since his arrest in September, unable to post $1 million bail.

Police charge Wamala repeatedly raped three young women, ranging in age from their teens to early 20s, in Nashua over the past year. Lowell police also are investigating allegations of additional assaults, police have said.

Wamala's lawyer, public defender Scott Rankin, made the allegations in a motion filed earlier this month, seeking to suppress statements Wamala made during the interview.

If they were actually used, such words would land detectives in trouble, Detective Capt. Scott Howe, supervisor of the detectives division, said Tuesday. "That is not and would never be tolerated by the Nashua Police Department," he said.

"We intend to call as many people as we can to say that that didn't happen," said Patricia LaFrance, assistant Hillsborough County attorney. "The defendant makes some assertions, and we're obviously going to respond to them. It will be up to the judge to decide what was or wasn't said."

A hearing on the matter is scheduled March 12 in Hillsborough County Superior Court.

Detectives Robert Page and Jonathan Lehto questioned Wamala after one of the women reported the alleged assaults in September, Rankin's motion said. Wamala claims Lehto told him he would be allowed to go home if he admitted to having sex with the women, and showed Wamala a letter one of them had written, in which she stated that Wamala had raped her. Wamala claims the detectives became increasingly hostile as he persisted in denying the allegations and began yelling at him.

Police recorded only "a small portion" of their interview with Wamala, LaFrance said.
The state Supreme Court has ruled that recordings of a defendant's confessions or statements can't be used as evidence unless police record the whole interview, starting when police read defendants their rights.

Wamala argues that detectives questioned him at length without advising him of his constitutional rights to remain silent and consult a lawyer. Once they read him his Miranda rights, Wamala requested a lawyer and the interview ended, Rankin's motion states.

Bringing two quests together

Don Q has managed to build thriving blogging communities around two different quests, Chess - The Knights Errant and Weight Loss - The Knights of the Round Bottoms. While the two groups do share several members in common, the quests have never been fully integrated. Not so for Gretchen Zaitzeff of Normal, Illinois:
Gretchen ... had two problems: how to stick to her diet and how to raise money for the state chess championships....

"Chess season is hard, you tend to eat more," said Gretchen Zaitzeff. "At tournaments, the kids play chess all day while the parents sit and wait and snack. I had lost a total of 12 inches ... since the beginning of the chess season, but I needed more motivation to stick to it all winter."

... she decided to donate $10 for every inch she lost since the beginning of chess season until March 1 to the local chess association to help its fundraising efforts.

"I knew that the Bloomington Normal Area Scholastic Chess Association (BNASC) was trying to raise money to buy additional chess boards for the IL State K-8 Chess Tournament at ISU in March," said Gretchen Zaitzeff. "It seemed the natural thing to do. $10 would buy one chessboard, and they need four hundred more. I know I can't lose 388 inches in a month. My goal is six to eight more inches. It's not a lot of money, but maybe kids from our Grove team will play on a board I helped pay for."
I wonder if Gretchen is a neighbor of CD's.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

What Chessdad64 has to look forward to

MJ explains how teaching her son to play chess has come back to haunt her:
I taught my son to play chess when he was three. We used to play chess all the time. He just really fell in love with the game. So he read umpteen books on how to play it really well, he went to camp for it, and he played a million phantom games with himself. He played it constantly for years. So he got really good. Now he can totally clean my clock in like five seconds flat. I stopped playing chess with my son. It's not because I am bad sport and I can't take getting beat. It's just not good for him. He has started to think that because he can beat me at chess that he is smarter than me and can question my thinking. That's not the only reason for it, but it doesn't help. He is just starting to enter the Know-it-all phase of his existence and playing a game where he can whoop me is not helping him to avoid becoming an arrogant little punk. So I don't play chess with him anymore.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Corporate Tactics

From "Icahn will do whatever it takes to win" at the Chicago Sun Times:
Author Mark Stevens has some advice for Motorola executives about corporate activist and multibillionaire Carl Icahn, the subject of his 1993 biography, King Icahn:
• Brush up on your chess. "Icahn was a top chess player at Princeton. He will do whatever it takes to win. He will surprise. He will come back from the dead. He will not go away until he wins. Motorola management is on the second move in the game, but Carl is already on his 10th."
• Even if you think you're a crack chess player, chances are Icahn will have his way and will win. "He almost always takes the value of the shares he bought and drives them up," Stevens said.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Queens chooses a name

The new US Chess League expansion team from Queens, New York has chosen "Pioneers" as their nickname. Here is a photo from their first training session.

Not all chess analogies work well

I'm not really sure what the connection to chess is in this one: in Ontario, buying gas is like a game of chess. At-the-pump prices go up and down like yo-yos, with ten cent per liter (think thirty cents per gallon) daily swings a common occurrence. So when gas is running about eighty-one cents per liter (USD$2.60/gal.), and you see it drop to seventy-four cents, you pull in and fill up. It doesn't matter if the tank is full, and it's all you can do to squeeze three bucks worth in.
Maybe they play chess differently in Canada?

Friday, February 09, 2007

USCL folds! NY Metro Chess League announced

I can imagine what they might be saying on Washington State's Bainbridge Island:
"For two years, despite his best efforts the commissioner has been unable to swing a Championship over to his beloved New York Knights. So in desperation he has decided to stack the deck by having 25% of the league hail from the Big Apple and its surrounding environs."
I'm not sure if I could get behind such "Clint"onian thinking, but it is interesting to note that the two new US Chess League expansion teams share the same subway and commuter rail systems as the Knights. Welcome Queens and New Jersey.

First off, let's forget the idea that the league is intended to pit players from different cities against each other. This notion had already been stretched thin by teams like Tennessee, which needed to scour an entire state to put together a competitively challenged team, and Carolina, which while still probably in James Taylor's mind is nonetheless not even a state at all. So now we can add New Jersey (wink! wink!) to the mix -- as if players from Cherry Hill will be making the weekly trek to the team's playing site.

And what about Queens? It's a borough! That's a New York term for a big neighborhood, for those of you in flyover country. It's like forming a second Boston team in Dorchester or Allston. Yes, I know all about the Brooklyn Dodgers, but where are they now?
The geographic centricity of the new teams also required a realignment of the division structure. For 2007, Carolina will be moving back to the Western Division. Now I ask you, how can a division with teams from Miami and Carolina be called the Western Division? West of what? Bermuda? Nova Scotia? Even the Tennesseans realize that their patch of land hasn't been considered the frontier for over 150 years.

Perhaps the commissioner should consider some alternative Division naming conventions:
  1. Refined Geographic - The Northeast Division and the South & West Division

  2. Political - The Blue Division and the Purple Division (Purple? It comprises both red and blue states)

  3. "Ballard"ian - The Biased For Division and the Biased Against Division
And while we're on the topic of names, Globular has posted some suggestions for the new teams. I was thinking Queens could play off of old descriptive notation and try something like Queens Bishop, Queens Rook or Queens Knight Pawn. Frankly Queens Knight sounds best to me though obviously this would be a problem. But come to think of it, with a new team in Queens shouldn't New York be changing their name to Manhattan anyway? So if New York gives Knight to Queens, they can call themselves the Manhattan Transfer. Don't like that one? They could move their playing site to Wall Street and call themselves the Manhattan Exchange.

As for the Garden Staters, why not use their most famous export? The New Jersey Barriers!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

On the chess frontier

At Sentient Developments, George Dvorsky takes the topics of chess computers, cheating and doping to the next level:
What will happen when the first genetically modified competitors emerge? Will there be a stratification of competitions, ones featuring unaugmented players and ones featuring those with genetic mods? Thinking more philosophically, what is the qualitative difference between an unmodified player who was born with a genetic advantage versus a player who had that advantage given to them via assistive reprotech?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

The life and times of chess computers

What did Deep Fritz do after winning its match with Kramnik?
Initial reports suggest that the chess-playing computer went on a massive drugs&sex&booze session to celebrate.... Onlookers were amazed to see Fritz (or "the Fritz-Meister General" as he prefers to be called) totally off his face in the bar of his hotel just hours after his marathon chess challenge.
Read "Deep Fritz goes on 5 day bender after claiming chess crown" from Robots Will Take Over!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Chess Poetry X

A game of chess
Black and white.
Pieces are black, pieces are white, squares are black squares are white
the cosmos is painted just black n white
Black and black are never together, white n white are never together
Still they say they are always together....
Read "Black and White - Chess" from Clear Like Clarity.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Style over Substance

From "Scrappy chess team holds own against nation's best" at the Akron (OH) Beacon Journal:
And senior Rick Marshall, 16, worked on perfecting not only strategy, but his aggressive flick of the wrist when capturing a piece.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Wouldn't you rather live in England?

When the Boylston Chess Club went looking for a new location, the Board focused on things like an urban location, access to public transportation, affordable rent and availability of parking. So when the Streatham & Brixton Chess Club moves from a local pub to their new digs at the Woodfield Grove Tennis Club, what do you suppose is one their most important priorities?

Access to a licensed bar on the premises.

Gridiron Chess