Thursday, September 23, 2010

Deep Blue - the song

via Boylston Chess Club Weblog

Kubrick and Chess

I watched this video yesterday:

I did a little searching and found a few interesting tid-bits about George Scott and Stanley Kubrick.
Here's what wikipedia had to say about George Scott's performance in Dr. Strangelove. "Kubrick tricked Scott into playing the role of Gen. Turgidson far more ridiculously than Scott was comfortable doing. Kubrick talked Scott into doing "over the top" practice takes, which Kubrick told Scott would never be used, as a way to warm up for the "real" takes. Kubrick used these takes in the final film, causing Scott to swear never to work with Kubrick again."

The entry went on to state: "During the filming, Kubrick and Scott had different opinions regarding certain scenes, but Kubrick got Scott to conform largely by repeatedly beating Scott at chess, which they played frequently on the set. Scott, a skilled player himself, later said that while he and Kubrick may not have always seen eye to eye, he respected Kubrick immensely for his skill at chess."

Then I read another article in which the interviewer asked Kubrick about chess:

"Q: You are a chess-player and I wonder if chess-playing and its logic have parallels with what you are saying?

"A: First of all, even the greatest International Grandmasters, however deeply they analyse a position, can seldom see to the end of the game. So their decision about each move is partly based on intuition. I was a pretty good chess-player but, of course, not in that class. Before I had anything better to do (making movies) I played in chess tournaments at the Marshall and Manhattan Chess Clubs in New York, and for money in parks and elsewhere. Among a great many other things that chess teaches you is to control the initial excitement you feel when you see something that looks good. It trains you to think before grabbing, and to think just as objectively when you're in trouble. When you're making a film you have to make most of your decisions on the run, and there is a tendency to always shoot from the hip. It takes more discipline than you might imagine to think, even for thirty seconds, in the noisy, confusing, high-pressure atmosphere of a film set. But a few seconds' thought can often prevent a serious mistake being made about something that looks good at first glance. With respect to films, chess is more useful preventing you from making mistakes than giving you ideas. Ideas come spontaneously and the discipline required to evaluate and put them to use tends to be the real work.

Q: Did you play chess on the set of The Shining as you did on Dr. Strangelove (with George C. Scott) and on 2001?

I played a few games with Tony Burton, one of the actors in the film. He's a very good chess-player. It was very near the end of the picture and things had gotten to a fairly simple stage. I played quite a lot with George C. Scott during the making of Dr. Strangelove. George is a good player, too, but if I recall correctly he didn't win many games from me. This gave me a certain edge with him on everything else. If you fancy yourself as a good chess-player, you have an inordinate respect for people who can beat you."

source: Wikipedia: Dr. Strangelove and Kubrick on The Shining
image source: Playing Chess with Kubrick

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Make Your Own Chess Board (the cheap way)

I ran accross this post today: Decorative Chess Sets.

She did a little dumster diving, some garage-sale hunting, cutting, glueing and painting.  Not sure I'd want to play with the set, but it would be a good conversation piece sitting in the guest room.

source & image source: Just Something I Made

Thursday, September 16, 2010

2010 Class Championships

I tossed in my hat.  I joined the USCF and registered for the 2010 Class Championships October 1-3 in Houston.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


Volcano in Eyjafjallajokul - what I saw in my dream
I was talking to my older brother.  He had some disease that made his fingertips look like they had leprosy.  His breath smelt badly too.  I felt so bad for him - but he was taking medication.  We were standing outside with hundreds of other people in the town.  This huge storm with really dark clouds was moving in.  Then there was an explosion in the clouds and lightening - red, firey lightening.  The clouds were moving more quickly - like they were going to collapse on us.  We all started running - the earth was quaking - then my alarm turned on.  I was in a sweat.  It was 4:30am.  The lengths I go to get in a good chess game online.

I walk to the guest bathroom, grabbing the eye drops on the way.  I turn on the light, put a few drops in my dry eyes and then I walk into the office.  He's not online.  I check my email - he's going to be 15 minutes late.  We finally play - and we're playing like it's a blitz game.  The game is 45 45, but we both end the game with more than 45 minutes on each of our clocks!  Of course I lost the game.  No surprise there.  But why is the question.

Like usual, I blunder in the opening moves.  After doing some post-game checking, I see I went out of book on move 5.  I lose a pawn.  I know it's over.  This guy is too good.

But why didn't I take time to think a bit more?  Sometimes I can get in the groove and really enjoy the thinking and analyzing.  Other times, like this morning, I am just restless and want to be moving - not thinking.  How do I combat this?  I need to find a solution to combat this anxiety when it occurs.  Deep breathing?  A bit of jogging in place or some exercise before or during the game?  Meditation?  I'll have to think of this a bit more.  I know in the past, I have gotten up and walked around a bit - not because of restlessness, but because I needed a drink or to go to the restroom.  When I did that, I became more settled.  Maybe I need to incorporate this into my start-of-the-game routine - force myself to walk around a bit - think about a move a bit longer.

With the loss, my rating dropped below 1600 for the first time since - I don't know - maybe 2004?  I ended up playing a couple of 15 0 games with a 1584 player (I was 1590ish).  I won both of them easily and my rating bumped up above 1640.  I don't even know why I care about the rating - consistency is what I desire.  And to know what the hell I should do in the opening so I can give myself a chance.

image source: The Big Picture

Saturday, September 11, 2010


Inspired by wang's post, I figured I'd write a few thoughts as well.

I too remember that day.  Like most, I was going about my business at work.  I had been in my first career job out of college for 9 months.  I heard the secretary gasp - she said one of the towers had been hit.  In those first few hours, everyone was scrambling to find news and pictures on the Internet.  All the sites were swamped - I finally went to and found pictures.  It was shocking.  Many of us left work early.  I drove past DFW airport and didn't see one solitary plane in the sky - it was very creepy.  My wife and I just watched the news with our 1-year-old in our arms - then the 2nd plane hit and later both towers came tumbling down.  It was surreal.  Of course there was the attack on the pentagon and the other plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.  Wow ... it makes one speechless.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


This is out of the blue.  Susan Polgar featured another blog's post about 50 great chess blogs.  ROCKY ROOK is featured as #39 on the list.  This is how he described my blog: "Learn how to improve prowess by developing an appreciation for the rich history and eclectic culture of chess."

Go check it out - your blog is probably on the list too.

via Susan Polgar

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Chilean Miners and Chess Violence

The King is Dead
It should be no surprise by now that I regularly document chess violence.  Chess indeed is a game of egos and some people just can't handle losing - so they resort to violence.  I think losing with grace and dignity and also learning from lost games is a mark of maturity and civility.

I read a very fascinating article about those Chilean miners who are trapped 700 meters underground and are stuck there until December.  They've been trapped down there over a month now.  Due to their extreme conditions and isolation, there are worries now about their psychological well-being.  NASA has even sent a team to help them deal with the isolation.  The rescue team has been sending them provisions, but they are extremely careful not to send any games to them.  Read this:

Most of the miners remain upbeat, but there are ominous signs. Some of the men are already depressed, and a few refused to appear in a video the miners made. They will almost certainly have other problems, which is why officials were careful not to send down any games that might spark conflict. In the 1980s, the Soviet Union banned cosmonauts from playing chess in space after a Soviet researcher at an Antarctic station killed a colleague with an axe, after losing at chess.

It is only going to get worse as the weeks drag on, and the miners are going to have to come up with a set of rules and procedures for allocating scarce resources, resolving grievances, and dealing with deviant behaviour. What they need, in short, is a system of laws. As the 33 unfortunate Chilean miners will soon realize, even hell needs a government.

source: Chilean miners: That far down, who decides what's law?
image source:
other reading: Chess Related Deaths

*UPDATE* just posted a bunch of pictures of the rescue effort.  In photo #26, you can clearly see a bag of dice which is part of a "package" that was to be sent to the 33 miners.  The photo's caption mentions that games were going to be sent.  So there is some conflicting information out there as to whether games are going down there or not.  You can also see in photo #26 that a PSP is being sent down as well.
source: Trapped in a Chilean mine

Monday, September 06, 2010

Long Term Improvement Plan

Update: September 6, 2010

I've been thinking about my improvement plan a lot lately and when Thomas commented on it, I figured now is as good a time as any to update my plan.

I finished The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess 3rd ed. - as for Logical Chess, as I said in the comments section, I've read most of it.  Now I'm just going back and transposing the games.  I've got a whole separate post I'm going to write about the way one is supposed to study GM games.

Tactics - I was doing quite a bit clear up until May of this year.  Then I basically stopped.  I'm still wondering about the benefit of doing tactics on ChessTempo.  I was trying to do 30 a day.  Maybe 20 is about right.

The best update is that I'm playing much more often than before.  I still need a play more games - long games.  Teamleague has helped a lot with that - but I'd like like to play a bit more - perhaps twice a week.  Sometimes I think 45 45 is too quick for me.

I think the general idea for my long-term plan that I've outlined below is still valid, but I doubt the dates will be accurate.

Right now, I want to intensely focus on the following:
1) Play as many long games as possible - shooting for two a week - 45 45; 60 5 or longer

2) Analyse the games and analyse the games. Let Fritz analyse them.  Annotate them myself.  Use the whisper feature during the game.  Review the opening - see where I went out of book - learn how to stay in book longer.

3) Go over GM games - I've not been doing this - I need to let my brain absorb quality games.  As a side note, I should also watch my teamleage team play games - and comment and think about those games - as time permits.

4) Tactics - I think 20 a day is about right - shouldn't take too long (10 mins or so) to do 20.

First published January 1, 2009

The biggest obstacle I face is carving out time once a week to play a slow game. I figure if I can get at least one slow game in a week, then I'd make great improvements.

Redhotpawn has been a great resource for me. I enjoy being able to take as much time as possible to evaluate a position.

I continue to work on tactics almost every day. My goal is to do 20 tactics a day at chesstempo.

The other area that is lagging is finishing books I've started and going over as many GM games as possible. I'm mostly done with Wolff's book and I've dabbled a lot with Logical Chess Move by Move, but have yet to finish it.

At this point, let me back up a bit. The premise of my goals and improvment plan is based on Dan Heisman's article entitled "An Improvement Plan." Currently, I'm trying to finish steps 1 and 2. From there, I plan to complete the remaining steps and would hope to complete the whole "plan" by January 2015.

Here are the details:

Goals Without an End Date
Play one long game a week (60 5), review, annotate
Go over several annotated GM games a week (reading books)
At least 20 tactics every day

January 2009 to June 2009
Finish The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess 3rd ed.
Finish Logical Chess Move by Move
Read Everyone's 2nd Chess Book
Read or review archived Novice Nook articles

July 2009 to December 2010
Study positional play (I'll fill in the books later)

January 2011 to January 2013
Fill in the gaps ... enlist the help of a professional instructor

February 2013 to 2016
I would hope by the time I reach this phase, I would be around 1800 (2000 FICS) and would begin to fine tune my game and eventually reach a rating of 2000 (2200 FICS). As I write this post today, I do not know how reasonable this timeline is. It may take me an entire lifetime to reach 2200 FICS. But for now, I feel I need to set some goals and dates.

FICS Standard Ratings
Date................Rat. .....RD.........W.......L.....D.....T........Best (date)
12/19/07...... 1628.....110.6.... 102... 89.. 6.... 197.....1733 (04/17/07)
01/25/09...... 1668....134.8.....128....111..7.....246.....1733 (04/07/07)
09/06/10...... 1614....97.2......142....128..9....279.......1733 (04/07/07)
03/29/11.......1603....66.2......167....158..12....337.....1733 (04/07/07)

Friday, September 03, 2010

Punches Over Chess Game

Continuing with the chess violence theme, here is another reported incident:

VERO BEACH, Fla. -- A chess game led to an altercation between inmates at the Indian River County Jail.

Indian River County Sheriff's Office deputies said Christopher Brown was playing chess with another inmate in the cell block Wednesday when Christopher O'Neal interjected on the other inmate's behalf.

Brown said he told O'Neal to leave them alone, but O'Neal ignored him and began yelling at him. Brown said he left the table and walked back to his cell when O'Neal followed him.

Deputies said other inmates witnessed O'Neal punch Brown several times. It took several detention deputies to break up the fight.

According to the incident report, O'Neal told deputies it was simply "a misunderstanding between them."

O'Neal was arrested on charges of battery on a detained person and resisting arrest without violence.

source: Chess Game Leads to Fight At Indian River County Jail