Wednesday, August 29, 2007

US Chess League -- Opening Day!!!

The results are only now starting to trickle their way across the internet, but I thought I would share my "behind the scenes" pictures of the Philadelphia Inventors (yay!) taking on the Miami Sharks (boo!) during their first scheduled match of the 2007 US Chess League Season. I actually had to leave early (damn, you work!). So, I'll probably have to post the results tomorrow complete with the patzer, monday-morning quarterbacking analysis that only a crappy player like I can provide.

GM Sergey Kudrin (2605)

I have reviewed multiple of Sergey's games prior to his recruitment to the Philadelphia team. It was awesome to shake hands with an actual GM!

IM Bryan Smith (2442)

Bryan gets extra points in my book. First, he told me before the game that he was trying to give up smoking. That's courage. You start up chess league the same time you are going through nicotine withdrawl.... wow! Second, the 6'2 plus player opted to play in a room where the doorways were about 5'8 inches. (I personally bumped my head no less than three times -- and I am only 6'0).

IM Richard Costigan (2287)

Richard is the president of the Franklin Mercantile Chess Club -- the playing ground for the Philadelphia Inventors. Unfortunately, the FMCC is not big on basking their officers with tons of perks -- Richard got the seat all the way in the back room by himself. He, also, had a good five-10 minute delay or so getting started compared to the rest of the squad. Ah, the joys of executive privilege . . . .

NM Elvin Wilson (2240)

(Sorry for the bad shot, Elvin). Elvin was the only player who opted not to use his accompanying chess board (note the unmoved pieces to his right). This, actually, fascinated me. Playing 95% of my chess on the computer, I find playing OTB ("over the board") games awkward. Wonder if he is the same way? Incidentally, as of 10:00 PM EST, Elvin's was the only game to have finished and with the result posted on the internet. He drew with the black pieces.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Chess -- The Dark, Underside

I met my first real "chess addict" the other day. . . .

He wasn't a person who simply played chess a lot or someone who loved the game -- he was a true "addict." He had virtually no job, no life, no friends, and nothing outside of the 64 squares you see on the board. He was the type of person who knew lines of the Sicilian Defense about 20 moves down -- but about whom you seriously wondered about last time he ate or even showered.

He told me he "used to be different," but that Chess had an opium-like effect over him. When it hit, he began spending all his free time playing the game. Soon he was using his work and social-time -- time he couldn't spend.

I have heard of these types, but never really met one until now.

Do you think Chess is addictive? Know any addicts? I am taking a survey to probe this generally ugly part of the game (click below).

Oh, Crapola......

NN vs. BlueEyedRook
(Black to Move)
For those of you still not playing on Redhotpawn, you are missing out. Hands down it is the best place to play correspondence chess.

There's two -- and only two! -- downsides. 1) It is a pay to use site. You can play for free, but you can only play like 6 games at a time (I am currently playing 50+ . . . and was looking to add some more!). 2) It's correspondence chess. Why is correspondence chess a bad thing, you ask? Because of the position above.

I won't reveal NN's rank, but it's a good 200 points above me on Redhotpawn. So, I was pretty happy to be in a endgame where the material was pretty much even. White has just checked me with his queen. There is two (and only two!) moves. Which one is correct?

Well, like a complete bozo I played the wrong move 1... Qe7?. Why is this so bad? It's called Chess Tactics 101!
White's reply is 2. Qb8+!! which wins the game. The move forks black's king and the unguarded black bishop (see left in red). Black can only play 2... Qe8 with the inevitable 3. Qxb2.

The move I should have made (the only other move I could have made!) was 1... Kg8. The c5 pawn would be lost, but the game would still be about even.

Correspondence chess is evil... evil I tell you. You can play days (more accurately weeks) to only throw a game away with one single act of utter stupidty.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Top Youtube Chess Videos

It might be "Enemy Number One" for American Democracy (see CNN/Democratic Debates), but, otherwise, Youtube is pretty damn cool!

Like most things internet-related, it is a victim of its own success. Yes, there are hundreds of good videos out there -- free to watch! But, there is also thousand videos of absolute, unadulterated crap.

To help you filter through the junk, I chose a couple of the videos I found to be the most interesting and entertaining. So without further ado, I present Youtube's Top Chess Videos.

A Pawn is Born
This shows a pawn piece being made from a cylinder of metal…. oh, in about one minute! It’s fascinating and hypnotic to watch at the same time.

How you, (yes, you!) can simultaneously take on 10 chess grandmasters and achieve at least an even score!
This magician shows you how anyone (even you!) can walk into a simul chess tournament and totally kick butt (well, at least beat half of them). It’s a little long, but the video is good . . . . and the ending is, well, just remarkable (how’d he do that?!).

Seinfeld Chess
It’s Seinfeld… It’s George…. It’s chess. No more needs to be said!

Cute Chess
Pixar has their “Old Man Chess” cartoon that came out not too long ago, but I found this one to be a lot better and a hell of lot more interesting to watch. One comment: So all the white pieces don’t mind the one white pawn dating the black queen?

Speed Chess
You can find speed chess all over YouTube, but these two guys impressed me the most.

Fight Club Chess
Laying out the blueprint for how we can make chess clubs exciting again. (I wonder if I played the Philidor if I would just automatically have my face bashed in?).


The Beautiful Ladies of Chess
Alright, alright, alright. Let's face it. The game is dominated by men. Thus, we are dumbstruck when woman players enter the scene. Now take a woman player (who is not only awesome) but drop-dead gorgeous and WOW! This whole video is dedicated to these chess-playing beauties.

"One Night in Bangok"
From "Chess" the Musical. Admit it. You like it.

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