Wednesday, December 28, 2011

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

So I'm on a bit of a intellectual-reading kick this month.  After summarizing what I learned from Waitzkin's book, I picked up Jonah Lehrer's book.  This one has been on my to-read list for a couple of years now.  Since it fit so well with Waitzkin's book, I moved it up in the queue and dove into it a little over a week ago.

This book was a really good read with lots of fascinating stories and experiments - all of which were highly stimulating.

I'd love to re-cap all the stories and main points, but there is just so much and all the chapters are inter-connected to make one big point.  So instead of doing a full-recap, I'd rather advise you to go to the library, check this book out and then read it.  There is a lot to chew on and a lot of little things you can learn from this book.

But the main thing to learn from this book is that we need to use both our emotions and our reasoning to make decisions.  Sometimes our emotions - our gut feelings - do a better job at deciding, while other times, we should let our reasoning do the steering in order to make the best decision.  He has a really good summary chapter at the end and explains when to use our gut feelings and when to use our reasoning.

Another major point that had major overlap with Waitzkin's book, dealt with when to use our emotions.  If, we've done the "perfect practice" and have refined our area of expertise with many years questioning about how we've could have done better, then we would best be suited to use our "gut feelings."  Waitzkin talked about this in his book.  Lehrer also cited quite a few people - from professional backgammon players to quarterbacks to professional poker players - who practiced, practiced and practiced until they were "dreaming it"  Then, and only then, could they begin to rely on instinct.

On the flip side, our instincts will fail us when we are presented with random situations.  The recounting of the 1980 NBA team the 76ers and the study of the "hot hand" was truly fascinating.  The "hot hand" statistically does not exist.  Our minds are fixed to look for patterns, but when patterns truly do not exist, and our minds are think there is a pattern, then our instincts are worthless.  So, we've got to know when to rely on our gut feelings and we also have to know when to not rely on them and instead, rely on our reasoning.

The story of the veteran smokejumper who was confronted with certain death was amazing.  The smokejumpers were dropped into a fire, but the conditions changed in a heart-beat and suddenly they were being chased by a wildfire.  They began running from the flames, but one smokejumper overcame his instincts to run and instead stopped and thought creatively.  He lit a fire!  He purposely burned a fire and then hunkered down while the wildfire passed over him.  He was one of a few who survived and his creative technique is now common practice for smokejumpers.  The other similar story was of the pilots of Flight 232 who miraculously crash landed the plane - they too were confronted with a new scenario.  They emotions bought them some time to reason their way out of the pinch

But now we flip back.  Sometimes emotion helps, other times it hurts us (the smokejumpers who didn't survive).  Reason is good when confronted with a new situation ... but what if we get trapped into paralysis by analysis?  Or what if we choke?  This sometimes occurs when we are very proficient at something, but then we begin to over-think it.  When we should be on auto-pilot, our unwanted deliberate thoughts begin to interfere with our performance - we literally choke and fail.  When confronted with over-think, we should recognize it and then begin to train with cue words.  Again, when we've gained proficiency, we need to let our "auto-pilot" take control.  If our micro-manager sneaks in, we need to kick him out.  We can train our minds to think in broad strokes rather than the micro.

Lehrer also gets into it a bit about the moral mind.  That was also an intriguing chapter about what makes us human - the ability to think about how others feel and thus act accordingly.

Lastly - he puts it all together by giving tips on when to use emotion versus when to use reasoning.
When expertness has been reached, gut feelings are the way to go

On that last point, he says, "if you're going to take only one idea from this book, take this one: Whenever you make a decision, be aware of the kind of decision you are making and the kind of thought process it requires.  The best way to make sure that you are using your brain properly is to study your brain at work, to listen to the argument in your head"

And consider this passage ... "Of course, even the most attentive and self-aware minds will still make mistakes.  Tom Brady, after the perfect season of 2008, played poorly in the Super Bowl.  Michael Binger, after a long and successful day of poker, always ends up regretting one of his bets.  The most accurate political experts in Tetlock's study still made plenty of inaccurate predictions.  But the best decision-makers don't despair.  Instead, they become students of error, determined to learn from what went wrong.  They think about what they could have done differently so that the next time their neurons will know what to do.  This is the most astonishing thing about the human brain: it can always improve itself.  Tomorrow, we can make better decisions."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin

I finished reading The Art of Learning several days ago and then for the last few days, I've been re-reading several passages; highlighting parts I thought stood out.

The first eight chapters were fascinating from a chess perspective.  Those first chapters read more like a biography, but there are a few smatterings of key points he uses to connect back into the main topic of the book.

Chapter 9 introduces his stepping into the world of Tai Chi - and this is where the real meat of the book begins.  I've marked several passages in the second half of the book and I'll note those below.

I think a lot of these lessons are very applicable to chess.  They are applicable to pretty much anything in life.  I found value in many of these passages as I think about applying them to my performance in my career.

But if you are interested in this "softer" side of learning, then I highly recommend the book.  And what I mean by 'softer' is that, everything he discusses is built on the premise that you must become proficient and even expert in the technical aspects of your performance (chess, career, sports, etc.)  Once you have put in the learning and practice, then these other, softer, aspects will help you perform better.

Michael Jordan - He made a point about Michael Jordan, in the chapter "Investment in Loss."  He states that MJ made more last-second shots than any other player in NBA history.  MJ also missed more last-second shots than anyone else in NBA history!  I think the point is well-taken, but since then, there has been another player who has taken and missed more shots than MJ - Kobe Bryant.  According to this analysis, MJ is 9/18 on last-second shots while Kobe is 6/23.

But again, the point is still valid.  To succeed, you have to take risks - you have to risk loss to become great - this was the essence of chapter 10.

Circles - A lot of this book was de ja vu - in that I've heard this before.  He references Pirsig in his Zen book about this girl who sets out to attempt to write a 500 word essay on her town.  She thinks there is nothing to write about - experiences writer's block.  So Phaedrus asks her to begin describing the opera house - brick by brick.  She thinks it won't work, but then she begins and a "torrent of creativity" floods her mind and the block is removed.  He then makes a point (back to the premise his book is built on) that excellence is built on depth over breadth - that you must dive into the micro to understand the macro.

In chess-speak - to get really good at blitz, you must play a lot of long, slow games.  To get good at tactics, you must understand tactics - begin small/slow and being working up.  We've all heard of The Circles - that is why many of us bloggers started blogging - to achieve that Don de la Maza experience!

To quote Waitzkin, "We have to be able to do something slowly before we can have any hope of doing it correctly with speed."

In describing a pattern in Tai Chi, he says, "Over time, I'm not thinking about the path from foot to fist, I'm just feeling the ground connecting my fingertips, as if my body is a conduit for the electrical impulse of a punch."

Using Adversity- He mentions three steps, when learning to deal with adversity.  I thought they were worth capturing.

1) "we have to learn to be at peace with imperfection"
2) "in our performance training, we learn to use that imperfection to our advantage - for example thinking to the beat of the music or using a shaking world as a catalyst for insight."
3) "learn to create ripples in our consciousness, little jolts to spur us along, so we are constantly inspired whether or not external conditions are inspiring."

Slowing Down Time- Earlier in the book, he mentioned breaking his hand in a competition.  At that moment, time slowed down and he was able to move "Neo-like" and defeat his opponent, despite the broken hand.  He talks about this experience repeatedly - and you can understand why he wants to break down the mechanics of "slowing down time."  Who wouldn't want to slow down time?

Going back to the premise - much of what he discusses in this chapter absolutely depends on your proficiency.  He even dips into the "chunking" we've all heard discussed.  For my own sake (and if you understand it, your benefit too) I've documented those parts that build a recipe for slowing down time.

"I realized I had to delve into the operating mechanism of intuition."
"My numbers to leave numbers approach to chess study was my way of having a working relationship with the unconscious parts of my mind."  Note - his numbers to leave numbers as far as I understood, means getting technically proficient/expert in order to become creative.
"In my opinion, intuition is our most valuable compass in this world.  It is the bridge between the unconscious and the conscious mind, and it is hugely important to keep in touch with what makes it tick."
He then gets into chunking ... I won't get into his quotes on this.
So, now that your mind is "chunked", "this is where things get interesting.  We are at the moment when psychology begins to transcend technique.  Everyone at a high level has a huge amount of chess understanding, and much of what separates the great from the very good is deep presence, relaxation of the conscious mind, which allows the unconscious to flow unhindered."
"The idea is to shift the primary role from the conscious to the unconscious without blissing out and losing the precision the conscious can provide."
So, once you have the knowledge and the chunking, then you can begin to practice relaxing to the point that your unconscious can handle all the peripheral data, so your conscious can intensely focus on the critical data.

If you can practice this, then you can slow down time!

The Illusion of the Mystical - To be honest, I didn't quite 'get' this chapter.  To me, it read more like "how to figure out the tells of a poker player."  I didn't see a whole lot of use of this chapter.

Immunity - In "The Power of Presence" chapter, he wrote something I thought was powerful.  It was simply another way of stating the premise of the book - that you must master the technical aspects of your profession in order to use much of what he discusses in the book.  He said, "Grandmasters know how to make the subtlest cracks decisive.  The only thing to do was become immune to the pain, embrace it, until I could work through hours of mind-numbing complexities as if I were taking a lovely walk in the park."

On the following page, I basically highlighted the whole thing.  It touches a lot on "perfect practice" and making your practice feel "real" so that when the real deal does come, you are prepared to act under no pressure - because you've already been there.

"In every discipline, the ability to be clearheaded, present, cool under fire is much of what separates the best from the mediocre.  In competition, the dynamic is often painfully transparent.  If one player is serenely present while the other is being ripped apart by internal issues, the outcome is already clear.  The prey is no longer objective, makes compounding mistakes, and the predator moves in for the kill.  While more subtle, this issue is perhaps even more critical in solitary pursuits such as writing, painting, scholarly thinking, or learning.  In the absence of continue external reinforcement, we must be our own monitor, and quality of presence is often the best gauge.  We cannot expect to touch excellence if 'going through the motions' is the norm for our lives.  On the other hand, if deep, fluid presence becomes second nature, then life, art, and learning take on a richness that will continually surprise and delight.  Those who excel are those who maximize each moment's creative potential - for these masters of living, presence to the day-to-day learning process is akin to that purity of focus others dream of achieving in rare climatic moments when everything is on the line."
"The secret is that everything is always on the line.  The more present we are at practice, the more present we will be in competition, in the boardroom, at the exam, the operating table, the big stage.  If we have any hope of attaining excellence, let alone of showing what we've got under pressure, we have to be prepared by a lifestyle of reinforcement.  Presence must be like breathing."

Searching for the Zone - He then gets into how we can build our own trigger of getting into that constant state of presence.  In a nutshell - it is High Intensity Internal Training - otherwise known as HIIT.  For those of you unfamiliar with HIIT - go google it and get to know it.  If you're lazy, then I'll just say that HIIT means exercising at high intensity for a small amount of time and then recovering and then repeating the high intensity and then recovering ... repeated several times.  A HIIT workout typically lasts 20-30 minutes and is generally known to be the secret to burning fat.

Waitzkin sees it as a way of building that bridge between conscious and unconscious; as a way to always be present.  He analyzed his chess games and found that his best thinking occurred in spurts of 10 minute 'moves.'  When he was not "present" he found that he spent much longer thinking and that his decisions were not great at all.  So he learned that he could improve his thinking process by monitoring how he felt - how efficient he was thinking.  If he started to 'falter' then he would take a break - go do some sprints (HIIT), return, cool off with water to the face and then look at the position anew.

"If you are interested in really improving as a performer, I would suggest incorporating the rhythm of stress and recovery into all aspects of your life.  Truth be told, this is what my entire approach to learning is based on - breaking down the artificial barriers between our diverse life experiences so all moments become enriched by a sense of interconnectedness."  He then mentions that meditation - a few minutes a day - in which your mind gathers and releases with the ebb and flow of breathing.

In the following chapter, Building Your Trigger - he also discusses other ways to get into that zone.  In essence, you find what makes you feel relaxed - so that when it is time to perform, you can quickly gather your presence and then perform well.

Once you identify what makes you feel focused - in the zone - present (whatever you want to call it), you then associate music, routines or anything else that you want to do to get you in the zone.  You can start off with a 20-30 minute routine, and then you slowly begin to whittle it down to minutes.  Then, if you are called to perform unexpectedly, it will only take you minutes or seconds to get in the zone.

He mentions a man he worked with to build his trigger.  He felt most relaxed when playing catch with his son.  So he set up a routine:
1) Eat a light consistent snack for 10 minutes
2) 15 minutes of meditation
3) 10 minutes of stretching
4) 10 minutes of listen to his music
5) Play catch

He set up this routine and followed it for a month.  Then he transported it to the day of his big performance - it worked!

Next he began cutting out playing catch and did 1-4 ... and slowly began working his way down doing minutes of meditation until finally he was able to get into the zone with just a few minutes of meditation - and it would have the same effect.

The rest of the book brings much of the previous chapters together.  The last few discuss how he used all that he had learned to become world champion in push hands.  Again, that part was more biography, but still fascinating to read about.

So, I know this was a long post - but there were so many intriguing parts to it, I felt I needed to capture what stood out to me.  I actually do this with almost all the books I read, but since this one crosses over into my "chess world" I decided to post my review on this blog.

Anyway - I recommend the book - I found some use out of it and I'm thinking about what I can do to incorporate what I learned into my life - both chess-wise and career-wise.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Logical Chess: Move by Move by Irving Chernev

I have finally completed reading Logical Chess: Move by Move by Irving Chernev.

This little project of mine has been going on years and it finally came to an end on the evening of Friday October 21, 2011.  I can't recall when I received my copy of the book ... it must have been around 2003 as a Christmas present.  I wanted it, because, back then, it was the book to have if you were aspiring to improve your chess.

At about this same time, I heard about the Polgar Brick and the subsequently how a few old Chessville denizens worked on that "project".  I missed out on the project and therefore was reduced to scouring the Internet for that .pgn file.

So to tie these two thoughts together - when I received my copy of Logical Chess, I decided to make a "project" out of it.  I would work on it game by game - page by page.  Sometimes I would spend a lot of time on one game, other times I would blow through a game fairly quickly.  Then there came a time when I abandoned it altogether ... only to just pick up the book and read over the games, but not work on the project.

Then the desire came back ... I just had to finish it.  Granted, it may not be perfect, but in my opinion this book is one of those timeless books and it felt better to have it all in one file.

My future plans for this book include additional review.  I've done some of the variations, but not all of them.  As I have more time to really dive into the games, I'll add the variations.  But for now, it is in a form I've always wanted it in.


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Rules for Entering Class Divisions in a USCF Tournament

This question if for all you USCF TDs and frequent tournament players.

So while I was registering for the US Class Championships this year, I entered into the Class C division because my rating was 1434P and the Class C division showed ratings from 1400 to 1599.  But after the tournament, I noticed that there were three players, going into the tournament, who had a rating higher than 1599 (see note below).

Why could these three players enter a class division from 1400-1599 when they had a rating higher than 1599?

Note: the three players had ratings of 1639, 1690 & 1702, so a couple of players were around 100 points higher than the upper limit of the Class C.

Monday, October 03, 2011

US Class Championships 2011

Friday September 30, 2011

After a long day of work, I drove down to Hobby Airport at the Hilton.  A cold front finally moved through South Texas and the weather was perfect in every sense of the word.  It was a great night to watch a football game and look at the stars.  But I had other things on my mind - the Class C section.  Round 1 for the 3-day was that night.

Like last year, the accommodations were nice.  The Friday night round was quiet as usual as only about half show up while the other half prefer to start round 1 on Saturday morning.

Round 1
The G/120 game started at 8:00pm.  For me, it lasted well past midnight. I played an older gentleman who was a little late for the start.  I started the clock and then he showed up a few minutes later.

I didn't get off to a great start and was quite rusty.  My pawn structure was all awry and he took full advantage of it.  I went down a pawn very early.  Later in the game, he left a pawn en prise and I returned the favor by not taking it (smack to the head!).  After I made my move, I realized I should have taken the pawn.  Then my whits really started failing me.  I held on for a few more moves only to commit an outright blunder by leaving my rook undefended.  I immediately resigned.  He was very cordial and reviewed the game with me for the next 45 minutes.  In the course of talking to him, it was apparent he had a lot of knowledge of the game.  He said he was retired and that was all he does anymore - study and play chess for several hours each day.  He seemed like the person that might win the Class C tournament.

Saturday October 1, 2011

Round 2
I tried to get some sleep after that tough loss.  I didn't get much.  I woke the next day, went on a walk in the crisp morning air, returned, mowed the lawn and then watched some football on TV.  I headed back to Hobby around noon to start round 2 at 1:00pm.

White pushed back
My next opponent was a kid who is in 6th grade.  My opening was much better than the day before.  I was black and played the KID.  After speaking with my opponent the previous night, he told me a bit about the plans of the KID ... it was useful for me since I know nothing of openings.  Like I said, I developed well and castled early, kept developing and then was able to get his bishop for one of my pawns.  He didn't castle, and instead swung both rooks over to my kingside to try a full-on attack.  But was able to hold it off and I then proceeded to drive his pieces back to where they came from.

We traded a few pieces, he attacked, then I counterattacked and then be blundered.  He thought he could check me and capture my rook, but he failed to see that my queen was defending h8.  But by this time, my clock was down to two minutes.  So I quickly promoted and mated him.

Round 3
After I won my first game, I got away from the place and ate some dinner - a nice sirloin steak - and watched some more football and baseball.  I went back to Hobby feeling pretty good.

My third game was tough and I felt I should have lost it.  I played white and opened with the Torre.  He then captured my bishop and then I had doubled pawns.  It wasn't looking too good.  I held on for dear life.  He placed his rook on the back rank, pinning my bishop to my king, then he followed up with his queen at c4, defending the rook.  I was on the verge of being mated.  And then he blundered.  He took a pawn with his bishop, thinking it was only defended by my queen.  Had I taken the bishop with my queen, it would have been mate by queen and rook.  But he failed to see my rook defending the pawn and he lost his bishop.  I took the bishop, the played 29. Rc3 and again, he failed to see that he had to recapture with his queen.  Instead he captured with the rook and I took his queen and he resigned.  I dodged a bullet.

So I went home Saturday night with two wins under my belt!  I didn't feel deserving of both of them, but I took them all the same.

Sunday October 2, 2011

Round 4
I drove to Hobby again feeling anxious.  My unspoken goal was to get three wins, and I wanted to win round 4 and then still have round 5 for a shot at earning some prize money.

Queen stuffed in the corner
I played with black and played some opening ... not even sure if it exists.  Chessbase calls it the Bishop's Opening (C24).  Like round 2, I ended up pushing this guys pieces back-back-back-back.  But I also ended up with doubled-pawns again!  After played 25...h4, the push was complete when he stuffed his queen in the corner.  All my pieces were aiming in the right spots.  I moved my rooks up more, swung my queen over to h8 and then he crumbled.  He ended up checking me with 34. Nd6+, I captured and then his queen came and cleaned up a few pawns after checking me on c6.  But I got my king all safe and my pieces were still trained on his king.  I mated him in 41 moves.  I had won 3 games!

Round 5
I cannot lie - I was feeling really good.  The only way I can describe it is how Harry Potter must have felt after taking that "feel-lucky" potion.  I just felt I could do no wrong.  My confidence was to the point of brewing over - border-lining on genuine hubris!  I failed to mention earlier, that I was the lower-rated player in all these games coming in at 1434.

28. e7 and Black resigns
I played with white in the last round.  I was relaxed, confident and feeling really good.  It was another older gentlemen - no doubt retired.  I played, again, what I assumed is the Torre.  He ended up pushing his pawns on the queenside - I thought he was pushing them a bit prematurely.  After it was all said and done, I ended up with a pawn chain from f2 to c5 - and this chain would be his un-doing.  Once I had that spearhead firmly in place, I proceeded to plant my bishop and knight deep in his territory.  We did some exchanging after which I was up a pawn.  We did some moving around and wrangling, but with each move, my position was getting stronger until I had a death-grip and he had nothing.  I felt kind of bad for him ... every time I moved, he would shake his head, sigh and then shake his head again.  My d-pawn eventually broke free and it was over.  I scored 4.0/5.0!!!

I had about an hour left on my clock and he had over an hour left on his - it was a "quick" game both by time elapsed and moves.

The people in Black and Gold were the Saints fans
So I stayed around, snapped some pictures and watched the remaining Class C games.  I had a shot at some prize money.  I strolled around a bit too.  Over the weekend, I noticed a few families that were playing.  On Sunday, they were all wearing New Orleans Saints shirts.  So I asked one of the dads what the deal was.  He explained to me that there were 4 families who all lived next to each other and their kids went to the same school.  They all love and play chess - including the parents.  I thought that that was so cool - a real dream of mine!

Finally the games in Class C finished and they put up the final results.  I came in "4th" and scored $150!  I checked the tournament results tonight and my rating went from 1434 to 1617!  Indeed, it was a great weekend.

Friday, September 30, 2011

FICS SurveyBot September 2011

A few years ago, I published the FICS SurveyBot results comparing FICS Standard ratings with USCF ratings.

Last year when I jumped into OTB by playing at the US Class Championships, I had to enter the "Unrated Division".  I came out with a 2nd place result and about a 1200 rating.  I then played in another OTB and my rating jumped up over 1400.  So I was curious about what to expect playing in the Class C division this year.  At least according to FICS SurveyBot, I'm in the division I should be in.  I'm sitting at 1434 USCF and 1630 on FICS.  So I think the SurveyBot (in my case) is in the ballpark.

And this is about right for my expectations.  Three things could happen for me this weekend:
1) I blow through the field and go 5-0; in which case that'd would be wonderful.  Odds: pretty low.
2) I am somewhere in the middle ... 2.5-2.5, maybe worse, maybe better.  This is what I'm anticipating.  Odds: fairly high.
3) I turf it big time and fail to win a single game.  This would be a blow to the 'ol ego and it would be a bit surprising.  Odds: somewhat likely (yikes!)  I played a 1400 rated player back in June and it was a slog-fest.  I won, but it was a really hard-fought win.  I could end up with 4 or 5 losses that are decided by a pawn.

My overall approach to this weekend is just to have fun.  I didn't do any post-game skittles room analysis last year, but I hope to this year.  So if I lose, I plan on really picking the other guy's brain and even try to get some tips for improvement.

UPDATE: September 30, 2011
: ---------
: 1220  982
: 1240 1004
: 1260 1026
: 1280 1048
: 1300 1070
: 1320 1093
: 1340 1115
: 1360 1138
: 1380 1161
: 1400 1183
: 1420 1206
: 1440 1230
: 1460 1253
: 1480 1276
: 1500 1300
: 1520 1323
: 1540 1347
: 1560 1371
: 1580 1395
: 1600 1419 <<---
: 1620 1443 <<---
: 1640 1467 <<---
: 1660 1491
: 1680 1516
: 1700 1540
: 1720 1565
: 1740 1590
: 1760 1615
: 1780 1640
: 1800 1665
: 1820 1690
: 1840 1715
: 1860 1740
: 1880 1766
: 1900 1791
: 1920 1817
: 1940 1843
: 1960 1869
: 1980 1895
: 2000 1921
: 2020 1947
: 2040 1973
: 2060 1999
: 2080 2026
: 2100 2052
: 2120 2079
: 2140 2105
: 2160 2132
: 2180 2159
: 2200 2186
: 2220 2213
: 2240 2240
: 2260 2267
: 2280 2294
: 2300 2322
: 2320 2349
: 2340 2377
: 2360 2404
: 2380 2432
: 2400 2460

SurveyBot(TD): A list of the estimated USCF ratings has been displayed above. The 257 submitted USCF ratings fit the best power curve given by formula USCF=a*FICS^b, a>0, where a=0.06364782, b=1.35707831 and coefficient of determination r^2=0.517.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Biggest Rating Jump in One Problem

Granted my RD was around 46 at the time of the problem, but even still, when my RD has been this high before, I've never had a big of a jump as this one!

Now if I can just consistent avoid losing to the 1500 and 1600 rated problems!

What's the biggest rating jump you've had at ChessTempo?

By the way, it was problem #78276.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

RHP Update

I stopped playing at RedHotPawn about a year ago, but then I picked it back up a few months ago.  I've won another game there just today.

On White's 20th move (where the game begins below), it got interesting.  He planted his knight deep in my territory, but I managed to scrape out a lead by taking out his supporting pawns and then exchange my bishop for his rook.  From there, we did some posturing, but I finally was able to sweep up some pawns and he resigned.

So now I'm 64-19-2 with a rating of 1635 at RHP.  I have 4 current games going right now.

It's been a while since I played my last G/90 game.  Life has been busy and the last two weeks I had higher priorities early Saturday morning.  But I'm thinking next Saturday morning I should be able to get another game in.  I'm looking forward to the 5 G/120 games coming up in a couple of weeks at the US Class Championships!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Sharp Eyes

A good friend of mine took some pictures of our family earlier this year.

He took a few of me and my boys playing around on the chess board.

He posted one of them on his artistic photo-feed.  Click here to see the full photo.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Chess Merit Badge

I'm an Eagle Scout ... so when I saw this in the news, I got a little excited.  Although, I was surprised the chess merit badge had not already been available.  My son, who is in Cub Scouts, earned his chess belt-loop and pin.

The requirements seem fairly comprehensive and they address all the key aspects of the game ... not only do they address the rules, but they delve into strategy, tactics, playing, problem solving and even running a tournament.

The first couple of the requirements also get into chess history, etiquette and describing the benefits of chess.

Maybe the local troop will let me be the merit badge counselor!

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Game 3 of 52

I finally pulled off my first victory in this march to 52.  I tried fishing for a game early on last night on FICS ... I trolled channel 90 for a bit asking for any takers, but there were none.  So I stayed up and watched the TCU at Baylor game (what a game!) and then decided to sleep in.  I worked it out so I could have 3 hours to myself in the afternoon.  So I had 1:00pm to 4:00pm blocked off.  I tried fishing for a G/90 game again on FICS, but there were still no takers.

So I fired up Chessmaster again.  I couldn't play Seb ... the highest rated player it would let me play was Hayden (1282).  Fifty moves later I had won.  Unfortunately, the Hayden personality wasn't so keen.  You know when the computer makes a seemingly dumb move like just giving up a pawn or exchanging a bishop for pawn?  Well, that is what it was like playing this personality.  I would have thought it would've played a bit tougher.  Seb was like 1300 or something ... anyway.

The cool part about playing from 1-4pm on a Saturday was being able to watch all the college football while playing chess.  Maybe that doesn't exactly help me make the best moves, but it was fun.

I'm on game 20 in Logical Chess - still enjoying that.  I should be done with the project around the end of October now.  I'm averaging about 3 pages a day now.

This 3-day weekend should be fun ... I should have lots of time to do tactics and play some blitz.  I'm for sure going to the LHCC Tuesday night.  I also need to renew my USCF membership and sign up for the US Class Championships scheduled in about a month.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Game 2 of 52

What a week!  We got back from vacation Monday afternoon.  We had driven 22 straight hours between Sunday morning and Monday morning.  We crashed at a friend's house in Dallas; did some school-shopping Monday afternoon and finally made it back to SE Texas late Monday afternoon.  So I've been trying to catch up on sleep all week long.  Work was a killer this week - lots of fires to put out.  Then our AC unit decided to quit; so we had a big chunk of it replaced.  Glad this week is in the books!

But I'm determined to keep this chess quest up.  I did get up one morning this week to read over Logical Chess. I also manged to get 20 tactics in this week on ChessTempo.  Then this morning, I struggled to get out of bed to play my G/90 game.  I rolled out at around 6:30am and decided to play Seb again (Chessmaster).  I played with Black this time.

So the good news is this:
1. I actually played and finished the 2nd game.
2. I used most of my clock - I had about 6 minutes left when the game finished.
3. I got to move 28 (rather than move 15) before screwing up.

So move 28 was where the wheels came off.  Here is the position:

Seb just checked me with his queen.  I had Kf7, Kh8 or Rf7.  I played Rf7 thinking I could get the rook more involved with a counterattack.  Kh8 felt like I was painting my king into a corner.  Kf7 felt like the king would be more exposed.

But again - my tactics antennae failed me.  I failed to see Nd7 and with the queen pinning the rook, there was no hope.

The good thing about playing Seb is he punishes me for these types of mistakes - which is exactly what I need - I need to be able to spot these.

Going back a few moves before this one, I had pushed the d-pawn.  This opened up this very diagonal, which of course in this position burned me.

It's tough trying to nail down everything at once.  Chess is kind of like trying to stop 5 leaks with just 2 hands. You stop one leak, another crops ups.  You gotta keep an eye on everything.

So after going 0-2 against Seb, I'll probably be playing the next lower rated player in Chessmaster (if I can't find someone on-line to play against next week).

One other thing - one nice feature of CM is the ability to pause the game.  My kids and wife are always interrupting me later in the game.  Today, I just paused it, addressed the family issue and then came back to the game when I had some time.  Not exactly the best scenario to play chess, but you do what you can :-)

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Game 1 of 52

So I decided to really do it.  My goal is to play 52 of any G/90 or G/120 games I can get over the next year.  What I mean by "any G/90 or G/120 game I can get", I mean OTB, games over the Internet or against Chessmaster (Grandmaster Edition) - in that order of preference.

Generally speaking, I want to play one game a week, but I realize there will be times when I won't get a game in for a week and there will be times when I can get multiple games in a week (i.e. tournament).

At Least it's a Start
I sent out a seek on FICS this morning, but got no takers for a G/90.  So I fired up Chessmaster and played the Seb personality.  A sub-goal, now, is to raise my embarrassing CM rating ... after my lost to Seb this morning, I'm at 898.

I still need to work on taking more time and looking at all variations.  I got burned this morning for not seeing a fork.  Also, as a TL team member told me, I need to play more defensive chess.  In other words, I need to improve at looking for tactics against me and not just be looking for tactics to score against my opponent.
White to move

Here is the position right before I moved 15. Rb1 followed by Black's 15 ... Bxd2 16. Qxd2 Qe4!

While considering Rb1, my "defensive tactic antennae" (which I need to develop) should have shot up ... seeing that there is the potential for the forking of the rooks.  After seeing the potential fork, I should have either developed a defense of it or tossed the Rb1 move out.

I think Fritz suggested Bg2.

The other key mistake I made was in the opening ... another theme of my mistakes.  After 1. d4 Nf6 2. Nf3 e6 3. Bg5 c5 I decided to move 4. c4?  It really makes no sense now that I look at it.  The only reason I can think of about why I made this move was because of a game I was reading in Logical Chess Move by Move ... it had seemed to me the c2 pawn should have been on c4.  Even that doesn't make much sense because the move sequence in the book was different.

Anyway, the correct 4th move should have been e3 or e4.

Developing the Habit
Next steps now ... I need to return and play another game.  I need to get this weekly habit going.  Unfortunately, we are leaving on a family vacation for the next week and a half and I won't have a chance to play until the week of August 22.  The good news is that my schedule is fairly clear from August 22 to the end of the year and therefore nothing should trip me up on trying to form this habit.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Lake Houston Chess Club

We finally have a place to meet and play on the NE side.

Check it out: Lake Houston Chess Club; meets Tuesdays at 7pm at Panera Bread on 1960.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

July Update

I have a post I've saved as draft - it's been sitting around for a while now.  I wrote it after my dismal performance in the last team league tournament.  I'm not sure I'm willing to publish it quite yet.  So in the mean time, I'll just post an update of what I've been doing.

Anyway - I've been getting into a good routine lately.  I've been getting up early in the morning and working on chess for an hour before I go to work.  My first goal, with this dedicated chess time, is to finish Logical Chess by Chernev.  I'm reading, transcribing it into a pgn and then trying to absorb the information.  At my current rate, I should be done with it this fall.

As for play - I was about to sign up for the NAS-NAJ tournament at Hilton Hobby in Houston, but some friends of ours changed plans at the last minute and decided to stay with us on the weekend rather than the following Monday and Tuesday.  So I missed out on that opportunity.  Then, I will miss the tournament on August 13 because my sister-in-law is getting married and we'll be driving there on the 13th.  All these wonderful OTB opportunities going by are driving me nuts.  As of today, I am still on playing in the Class Championships 9/30 to 10/2.

I've had a thought stirring in my mind for a while: play 50 G/120 games in one year.  There are a number of reasons for the thought.  1)  I need to play lots more than I am now.  2) I need to play long games ... G/60 and 45/45 seem a bit fast for my slow brain.  3) I need more practice at 'Real Chess'  4) I'd like to have a set time every week that I play the game - something I can depend upon.

So I'm considering setting aside Saturdays at 03:00 FICS time to play.  If I can find someone to play on-line, so be it.  If not, then I'll play the 'personalities' on Chessmaster.  As for finding people to play, I can troll the STD forums as well as the other chess forums.  I've also thought about putting a google spreadsheet out there for people to sign up for a time to play me.

That's the update for now.

I'm still reading lots of blogs out there.  I've enjoyed the carnivals - maybe I'll get creative one day and submit something.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Houston Swiss Open

Just found out about another tournament here in Houston.  The Houston Swiss Open will be Saturday August 13, 2011 at the University of St. Thomas.

Three rounds; G/90 w/ 5 second increment.

I'm planning on it.

By the way, if any of you are interested in playing a G/120 or G/90 on-line - or even in person - sometime, drop me an email or leave a comment.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Chess Pistols Tournament at Rice University

The Chess Pistols chess club held a G/60 +5 SS tournament on June 4.  I took my 1244 provisional rating into the tournament determined to come out with at least one win.

Game 1

The first game was typical ... I blundered early ... was moving too quickly; not paying attention to the threats after my candidate moves.  I went down a bishop.  But, I kept fighting and came back big time.

I equalized the game by trapping his bishop and then later on, I sacrificed a pawn to clear the way for my rooks to do some serious damage.  I eventually was able to trade a rook for his queen.

From there, it was even more stressful.  I had to win the game now with limited time on my clock.  I managed to screw myself by not managing my remaining pawns well.  We dropped the pencils and focused entirely on the board.  I kept giving check.  My strategy, at this point, was either to force him to lose on time, force a draw by repetition.  But I managed to maneuver his rook and king to the edge of the board and with my king and my solitary pawn, I was able to mate him.  I honestly didn't see the mate until after I made the move.  We were both in shock that the game was over.

Later on in the day, I found that he was rated over 1800 - making this the biggest win of my entire chess career!!

Game 2 and 3

With my extraordinary win in round one, I was paired with one of the top players in the tournament.  He was rated over 1900.  I got crushed in 23 moves.  I wasn't so disappointed in the loss per se, but rather in the lack of effort on my part.

Game 3 was pretty much the same.  I played a 1700 player; blundered and then got blistered on a brutal checkmate.  That game also went a measly 23 moves.

Game 4

I was finally paired with someone with about the same rating - a 1400.  This game was a slog-fest going over 60 moves.  I managed to find a crucial tactic that secured me a pawn lead.  I went on to force trades of the remaining pawns and then cleared a path for my remaining pawn to queen.  He resigned before I could queen.

So I went 2-2 and placed 2nd in the U1600 division and scored $10!

Now - can someone answer me this: how did I get paired with an 1800-rated player in round 1 when there were 1400-rated players?  Hind-sight: I'm glad I did, but I would think that they would pair me - a 1244P player - with someone around my rating.

Here is a link to some pictures of the tournament.  My rating is now 1434 after 13 games.

Saturday, May 28, 2011


I've always been a little leery of whispering in my games while playing them (in Team League play).  Generally speaking, there can be three to several people observing your game.  But what if your opponent is also logged in as a guest and sees all the whispers that are being made during the game - especially the whispers you're making?

This screen-grab is from a game of one of our team members.  When I first started observing the game, it was just me, TeamLeague and that guest observing that game.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Rocket Chess

hat tip to chesshouse ... follow the link to see a couple of pictures.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Pin

Second TL46 Game

I won my 2nd game in TL46.

The first caption is move 15.  I started licking my chops when he moved that king behind his queen.

I stayed patient and resisted the urge to capture his knight with my white-square bishop.  Then move 19 came and I saw what I was looking for.

After clearing one rook, my knight attacked his bishop and queen.  After taking the bishop and he the knight, he'd be pinned.  He opted to just drop the bishop altogether.

I kept up the pressure.  He eventually resigned on move 28.    I was about to mate him or clear all his pieces.

It was just neat how I kept chipping away at trying to get that pin.  I knew at any point the position could have changed and the pin would have been an after-thought.  But it felt good to be patient, develop pieces and prepare the position entirely.

Case for Wood Board

I finally got around to finding a case for a wood board (23x23).  House of Staunton has one for $35.  If any of you know of a better price for a wood board (that does not fold), let me know.  Link to case.

Tron Legacy

What a great show.  I finally watched it last night.  I loved the music to it.

NAS-NAJ Open July 22-23

I was aware of the Senior and Junior opens July 22-24 at Hilton Hobby, but what I was not aware of was the Not-a-Senior-Not-a-Junior Open going on at the same time and place.  I found it will perusing Cajun Chess.  Here's a link to the tournament details.  I think I may play it.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Chess Pistols & Misc.

I've not visted this marauding club yet, but I will on June 4.

They're hosting a 4SS tournament at Rice University.

I've not been over to Rice yet, so I don't know what their commons room is like.  I would assume it'll be relatively quiet as it'll be summer term or perhaps in between terms.

Anyway, if you're in the area and available that day, sign up (Donnie? Ivan?)

In other news, TL46 is up and running.  I like the new format and I'm glad they've come up with their own little formula for a TL-rating.  It better represents the kind of competition you'll be up against.

Lastly, it's good to see Wahrheit back to blogging.

Monday, May 16, 2011

My Favorite Chess Blog

The Chess Improver (by Nigel Davies)

I've yet to find a post I thought was rubbish.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Chess Around the Net

I haven't done this in a long time ...

Surf n Chess Club
"An avid chess player, Neely had read dozens of studies on the positive effects of chess on learning and wanted to introduce it to his students.

There was one hurdle.

"A 'chess club' is something for eight or nine bright nerds," Neely said. "I wanted something more than that. I wanted something cool for the kids."

So Neely, also a longtime surfer, decided to jazz up the game with Beach Boys tunes and a beach party atmosphere. There was also one hard and fast rule: Students had to shake hands with their opponents to wish them good luck before each game. His students became known at chess tournaments for being the most polite."

Fischer Spassky Board

Bridge (not Chess) in School
"Chess is still the game of choice among educators, but bridge is catching on at a growing number of schools, community leagues and recreational centers across the nation, many of which see the card game as offering similar mental benefits to those of chess, but with a social component."

A Different Kind of Talking Chess Set
Not sure I would pay even $19.99 for this ... interesting.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

picking up the pieces

i had a very interesting week this week.  licked my wounds a bit only to be comically re-injured when i challenged my team league team mates to a 45 0 game.  my captain took me up on the offer and then handily whooped my ass.  i was literally laughing at the utter breakdown on my part coupled with his flawless play.

i joined the 21st century and discovered pandora this week.  quickly i found the android app for it and have been listening to my one selection of genre the whole week.  it had picked up a song i shared on facebook (a william orbit song) and auto-generated my personal radio station.a couple of days ago, i installed the windows 7 gadget -  it is the perfect companion for doing tactics at chesstempo.

last night i was doing just that - tactics and listening to pandora - when this exceptional piece was played.  it is called 'our breath shall intermix' and is by a group called symbion project.  again, i finally caught up.  this group (artist?) has been around for 20 years.  come to find out that the album this piece is from is called immortal game and there are two tracks on it that reference chess 1) pawn to king 2) bishop to king 7, checkmate.

another interesting thing from my tactics session last night ... i was limping along ... 12 right 8 wrong.  it felt like a real struggle; like my head was in the fog; like i wasn't really paying attention.  like a switch, i just said to myself, 'enough.  i am going to get these problem right.'  it seemed to work.  i ended up with 36 right and 12 wrong.

and now, for your listening pleasure.  find 10 uninterrupted minutes, sit down, put on some wicked headphones and listen to this track.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Epic Failure

Winning! - not.

T45 is over.  My last loss of the season summed up perfectly how T45 went for both me and our team.

I went 1-4.  The team finished with 1 match point and finished last.

The last loss ... I had no vision, no desire, no fight ... nothing.


I guess it's time to re-group.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Cogmed and Chess

Our 10 year-old daughter has been diagnosed with ADD.  We've been working with psychiatrists and psychologists to help her overcome this disability.  At the same time, we've been trying other methods to try and tackle her focus issues.  There is no doubt in our minds that our daughter is very intelligent, but we see that focus is an issue.  We also think this issue is hereditary - my wife and I experience the same issues that are described in our daughter.

So in discussing these challenges with other parents who's kids have the same issues, we came across a program called Cogmed.  We just heard about it last week and I finally got around to going to the website to get more details.

As I was reading some of the user case studies, I found that one user used Cogmed to improve his chess.  Not only did it help him improve, he went from placing 26th in a tournament before using Cogmed, to winning the state championship after using Cogmed for a month.

Click here to read this brief case study.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Chess Boxing to Control Your Emotions

I ran across a fascinating article that discusses using chess-boxing to create the "ability to effectively regulate emotions in order to maintain cognitive control."

You can read it in its entirety: "Could Chess-Boxing Defuse Aggression?"

Tuesday, March 08, 2011


In playing a 3-game set with another player, I lost the first game and was about to crash and burn in the 2nd and 3rd games ... but I didn't.

Game 2
Game 3

Burning Castles

Even though he hasn't posted for almost a year now, I still find Wormstar's blog highly fascinating.  I've been toying with the concept of trying to replicate what he did.

Burning Castles

Chess Reference

I would have just copied the chess reference quote and included a link, but it looks like the author (Scott Adams) had to take the post down.  It is a worth-while read ... and I bolded the chess reference.

The topic my readers most want me to address is something called men's rights. (See previous post.) This is a surprisingly good topic. It's dangerous. It's relevant. It isn't overdone. And apparently you care.

Let's start with the laundry list.

According to my readers, examples of unfair treatment of men include many elements of the legal system, the military draft in some cases, the lower life expectancies of men, the higher suicide rates for men, circumcision, and the growing number of government agencies that are primarily for women.

You might add to this list the entire area of manners. We take for granted that men should hold doors for women, and women should be served first in restaurants. Can you even imagine that situation in reverse?

Generally speaking, society discourages male behavior whereas female behavior is celebrated. Exceptions are the fields of sports, humor, and war. Men are allowed to do what they want in those areas.

Add to our list of inequities the fact that women have overtaken men in college attendance. If the situation were reversed it would be considered a national emergency.

How about the higher rates for car insurance that young men pay compared to young women? Statistics support this inequity, but I don't think anyone believes the situation would be legal if women were charged more for car insurance, no matter what the statistics said.

Women will counter with their own list of wrongs, starting with the well-known statistic that women earn only 80 cents on the dollar, on average, compared to what men earn for the same jobs. My readers will argue that if any two groups of people act differently, on average, one group is likely to get better results. On average, men negotiate pay differently and approach risk differently than women.

Women will point out that few females are in top management jobs. Men will argue that if you ask a sample group of young men and young women if they would be willing to take the personal sacrifices needed to someday achieve such power, men are far more likely to say yes. In my personal non-scientific polling, men are about ten times more likely than women to trade family time for the highest level of career success.

Now I would like to speak directly to my male readers who feel unjustly treated by the widespread suppression of men's rights:

Get over it, you bunch of pussies.

The reality is that women are treated differently by society for exactly the same reason that children and the mentally handicapped are treated differently. It's just easier this way for everyone. You don't argue with a four-year old about why he shouldn't eat candy for dinner. You don't punch a mentally handicapped guy even if he punches you first. And you don't argue when a women tells you she's only making 80 cents to your dollar. It's the path of least resistance. You save your energy for more important battles.

How many times do we men suppress our natural instincts for sex and aggression just to get something better in the long run? It's called a strategy. Sometimes you sacrifice a pawn to nail the queen. If you're still crying about your pawn when you're having your way with the queen, there's something wrong with you and it isn't men's rights.

Fairness is an illusion. It's unobtainable in the real world. I'm happy that I can open jars with my bare hands. I like being able to lift heavy objects. And I don't mind that women get served first in restaurants because I don't like staring at food that I can't yet eat.

If you're feeling unfairly treated because women outlive men, try visiting an Assisted Living facility and see how delighted the old ladies are about the extra ten years of pushing the walker around. It makes dying look like a bargain.

I don't like the fact that the legal system treats men more harshly than women. But part of being male is the automatic feeling of team. If someone on the team screws up, we all take the hit. Don't kid yourself that men haven't earned some harsh treatment from the legal system. On the plus side, if I'm trapped in a burning car someday, a man will be the one pulling me out. That's the team I want to be on.

I realize I might take some heat for lumping women, children and the mentally handicapped in the same group. So I want to be perfectly clear. I'm not saying women are similar to either group. I'm saying that a man's best strategy for dealing with each group is disturbingly similar. If he's smart, he takes the path of least resistance most of the time, which involves considering the emotional realities of other people. A man only digs in for a good fight on the few issues that matter to him, and for which he has some chance of winning. This is a strategy that men are uniquely suited for because, on average, we genuinely don't care about 90% of what is happening around us.

I just did a little test to see if I knew what pajama bottoms I was wearing without looking. I failed.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about endurance this week ... especially since my loss earlier this week.  Wasn't it Dan Heisman who said your game is only as good as your weakest move ... or something like that.  I felt I was playing pretty well the whole game.  Then I saw a way to promote my pawn.  Being under a bit of time pressure as well as being a bit tired (it was around 11:30pm at this point in the game), I simply didn't calculate well - I didn't count the squares the king was from a8.  And so I threw the game away.

Here is a link to the game.

So my thoughts, this week, have been directed at how I can maintain focus for the length of the 2-3 hour game.  I personally think this issue of lack of focus and enduring to the very end is a broader issue in my life and it just manifests itself in my chess.

One thing I've tried to change this week is in my exercise routine.  Instead of giving up when I'm feeling tired, I been trying to stretch myself into working out longer.  Before, I would bike for 20 minutes and jog for 20 minutes.  During those workouts, I'd take frequent breaks.  This week I've been focused on riding consistently for the full 30 minutes and then to push myself for the full 30 minutes at jogging.  I've been successful so far (Monday through today).  This is just one example, but I've been trying to keep the topic of endurance in my mind in all the things I do.  I aim to improve my endurance and capacity in all aspects of my life.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Off to a Good Start for 2011

My first game of the year was a win.  You can replay it here on

This was the move that started the chain of events.  A bit earlier in the game, I was trying to maneuver both knights and my white bishop to attack e4.  But he ended up taking one of my knights and then advanced his d-pawn.

I still needed to get my other knight off the peripheral - he wasn't doing any good there anymore.  So when he moved Qd2, it didn't take me long to move Nc5 (37.5 seconds to be exact).  The intention of course was to plant the knight on b3 for the fork.  He ended move moving his rook to b1.

My next move was a bit aggressive.  I plopped my queen on g4.  I had this idea for a while.  I was a bit unsure of this move, but decided to go ahead with it as it created an attack on g2 and e4.  I figured I could recall the queen back to safe land if the plan didn't fly.  He followed with g3.  I had a decision to make ... take e4 or pull back.  I tried to calculate as many possibilities as I could and I'm sure I was not thorough.  After over seven minutes of internal debate, I decided to go for it.  I thought he would move Nxe5 and we would go down the path of exchanging pieces, but he opted for exchanging the knights right away.

So, 16...Nxe4 17. Nxe4 Qxe4 18. Rd1 cxd5 19. hxg6 (this was a bit surprising to me). Qxg6 otherwise I'd be mated with 20. Qh6.  Next he moved Rh6, I moved Qg7.

And then his blunder - Nh4.  Before he made this move, I was planning on e4 to bump his knight off f3 after which I'd follow up with the fork (Bf5), but he obliged without me even asking.

He played Nf5, I took his queen (check) and then moved my queen out of the way.  From there, I just needed to ensure I didn't stumble in the end.  There was still a possibility of him aligning rooks and bishop to attack h7.  But I managed it successfully, got rid of his knight and then eventually was forced to take his bishop with my queen after which I took his rook and I was up a full rook.  He capitulated fairly quickly - he didn't resign, but he didn't fight either.

As a side note, the time negotiations for this game were a bit strange.  But in the end, we ended up starting the game at 5:00am my time.  Early morning games aren't my preference, but sometimes you have to play at that time to accommodate the Europeans.  Even though I was a bit worried about lack of sleep, I was able to get a good sleep and my brain wasn't too foggy.  To help clear the cobwebs, I got up a few minutes before 5:00am and played a few games of Bejeweled Blitz.  I've found that playing Bejeweled Blitz is a great way to scan an 8x8 grid extremely quickly - I highly recommend this game!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

January Stats

Well ... let's try this again.

ChessTempo: Blitz 389/523 (74% - 5.3 hours) Rating 1708.8
Slow Games: 0 Rating: 1584 (RD 85.3)
Reading/Studying: None

February Goals
1) Continue with at least 20 tactics a day
2) Play 3 long games
3) Study/input to .pgn 2 games from Logical Chess

T45 has just started.  My first game will be this week or next.

This is a trend I must reverse (link)

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Double Your Chess Analysis Powers

Have you read this article? Alien Hand Syndrome sees woman attacked by her own hand

In a nutshell, this woman suffered from epilepsy.  Doctors remedied her ailment by "cutting out a small section of her brain."  In her case, they did something a bit more drastic - they severed the corpus callosum - which is the link between the two halves of her brain.  This effectively, it would seem, create two brains and thereby doubling the processing power - your very own dual-core processor!

Of course I would imagine there is a little bit of re-conditioning and training you would have to do to get both halves to not only work properly and independently, but also to work towards the same goal.

That BBC series, by the way, looks absolutely fascinating.  I'll have to look it up and DVR it sometime.

via: Scott Adams blog
picture: DesktopNexus