Scratch where it itches

OK, it’s the end of the year, Christmas Eve. Let’s face it, we are thinking about our new year’s resolutions and formulating a few. But I ain’t doing that. I ain’t making any new year’s resolutions or making any grand plans.

This year, all I plan to do is scratch where it itches.

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Published in: on December 25, 2007 at 12:53 am  Comments (2)  

There is no finish line

I wake extra early in the morning and play chess on the Internet. I always have moves to make since I am playing people in time zones all over the world. After I have made all my moves, I feel exhausted, but I study annotated games from books until dawn. By evening, my sleep deprivation curses me.

I have won four games and lost one out of the last dozen games I plan on playing this year. I judge myself to have good chances in six out of the last seven remaining games. There’s one game I cannot solve; I’ll keep trying though.

It has been well documented that chess takes on a life of its own for some of us. Geniuses in the arts and sciences have become obsessed with the game, but never mastered it; ordinary intellects have risen to the height of chess glory. Studies indicate that there is no natural chess genius. The best players have poured heart and soul into the game through endless study and practice.

My chess experience leads me to believe that genius is overrated. You see the splendid performances on the playing field. The thousands of hours of sweat that create those performances are too easily forgotten. Back in the Seventies, when as a casual runner, I decided I wanted to run a marathon. I spent two years running 50 to 60 miles per week getting ready for my first marathon. You would laugh if I told you what my time was in that first one. But it was better than I expected and the experience was exhilarating. I was high for many days after. That was a good start to more racing and marathons and wonderful nights running down gravel roads between the cornfields of Iowa. I remember those hours as some of the best of my life.

I want my chess game to be as my running was to me. I want to study, practice, and work hard at it. If I lose a game, I want to be able to say I did my damnedest. When I play a good game, I want the mental high. I want to hear those internal voices saying, “I did it.”

For many years I had a Nike magazine advertisement tacked to my office wall. It was a picture of a solitary runner running down a country road. The caption said, “there is no finish line.” Maybe, if we firmly believe that, then chance may have it that we can always hope to become better at whatever our passion may be.

I’ll leave it at that for now. I have another move to make against one of my opponents.

Published in: on December 22, 2007 at 12:46 pm  Comments (2)  

Merry Christmas all the same broken heart

One of the things I do not like to witness at this time of year are people whose hearts are broken. It vexes and pains me. I wish I could do something about it, but I’m just Lynn–impotent when it comes to mending broken hearts.

As for my heart, now that you ask, it ain’t broken. I don’t even know if I have a heart. Maybe, that is why I have this pleasant buzz in my brain, for you never know when love will strike, or from where.

Published in: on December 22, 2007 at 12:56 am  Comments (2)  

Just having easy going fun while doing my own thing in my own time

I’m watching Easy Rider on TV. And thinking about her. The her that she has shown me a couple of times–the real her–the her that assures me that I was not entirely wrong about having this heartbreaking crush on her..

Now, the soundtrack on Easy Rider plays the Byrds’ song, I Wasn’t Born to Follow, as Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper ride through the mountains on their bikes.

“My heart soars like an eagle.”

Published in: on December 21, 2007 at 2:35 am  Comments (4)  

Hard work can be its own worst enemy

Let’s get this straight from the outset; I do not play chess well despite my current obsession. I have achieved a fair amount of success at the Internet chess site where I have been playing. This has come at the cost of a prodigious amount of study and analysis of my games. I have justified the time by calling it chess boot camp.

This cannot go on forever though. I must learn to play with less than optimal time advantage. That means my win/loss percentage will fall and my rating will drop dramatically. It’ll rankle me, but I see no other way.

I have twelve games in progress. After I finish these games, I will reduce my time commitment to the games I play. I know I have yammered on at State Street about sunk costs, but I just cannot easily let go of these twelve games since I am in position to win all but one of them.

But these are the last twelve games that will be like the choice between life or death.

Published in: on December 16, 2007 at 1:59 pm  Comments (2)  

Chess luck and free will

I woke at about 3 AM last Sunday morning and could not get back to sleep. I checked my online chess games. Nobody was online playing me. Thirsty for some chess, I started up several new games. I set no lower limit to the rating of the player who could challenge me. A woman, from her profile I assume she is a philosophy graduate student in a prestigious philosophy department in the U.S., challenged me to a game. Her rating was so low that I would gain no rating points by beating her and lose 19 points from my rating if I lost to her.

I wished her good luck at the start of the game. She replied that luck had nothing to do with it; chess is a game of pure skill. She hoped she would not fuck up too soon (her words).

She botched her opening in a few moves, but she put a direct threat against my queen with a bishop. I automatically thought of a move that neutralized the threat. Then I decided to see how the game might go if I sacrificed my queen. I eventually saw I could checkmate her in three moves if she took the poison queen. She did not take the queen. However, at that point she had completely blown her opening and I obtained an immediate and overwhelming material and positional advantage. I eventually checkmated her in 31 moves, which was good play on her part given my advantage at the beginning of the game.

A common expression among chess players is chess is a game of skill rather than luck. I grant that if two chess programs play each other, it is a game of deterministic skill. When two human players play each other luck counts.

Take the above game I just mentioned. If I had started the game with her before I went to bed, I would have been fatigued from playing a lot of chess Saturday night. I most likely would not have looked for the optimum queen sacrifice. Instead I was more alert after having just woken and being more rested. That improved my thinking about the game.

So she caught me at the wrong time. Bad luck.

Published in: on December 16, 2007 at 1:35 pm  Comments (3)  

Errol and Olivia: what blog?

I was going to write a real blog entry this evening, but Turner Classic Movies is running Errol Flynn movies all night. The blog will have to wait one more day.

One of the best things about Errol Flynn movies is that Olivia de Haviland stars in them too.

Published in: on December 15, 2007 at 9:23 pm  Leave a Comment  

Are neoliberal excesses the fault of democracy?

My political philosophy reading came to a definite halt several weeks ago when I became obsessed with chess. However, chess was not entirely to blame. I am disturbed that some leftists have become so discouraged with democracy that they have identified it as the cause of neoliberal excesses. Even though my reading has stopped my thinking and the search for answers to some questions continue, especially questions that arise from the surmise that democracy fuels neoliberalism.

Are democracy and capitalism correlated? If so, is there a causal direction, or maybe, some kind of deadly embrace between the two? Can there be a useful political philosophy if it is not grounded in some ethical theory? Let’s take Aristotle or Marx as examples of political theory grounded in ethical theory.

Does the United States Constitution reflect any kind of useful political theory grounded in ethical theory? Is there any hope of adding an economic bill of rights to it so as to curb capitalist excesses? Is it irrelevant given the current American political environment?

So many questions; so much to think about.

Published in: on December 11, 2007 at 11:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Hard to tell

I’m sitting in the Starbuck’s on the corner of State and Delaware, drinking coffee, and playing Internet chess on my iPhone against people all over the world. Life is good. I wonder if this officially makes me a coffeehouse chess bum.

I’m also thinking about this woman who may love me again. I’m imagining moving to a place where I could see her often. It’s like a sports bet and a chess move rolled into one.

Published in: on December 7, 2007 at 1:58 pm  Comments (2)  

My excuse for not writing more on my blog

Ok, I’m busted. I’ve been playing Internet chess to total distraction. Except for two people in the twenty plus games I am playing right now, my opponents are better than me. I’ve reached my level of incompetence.

That is the way it should be though. Everyone reaches a level of incompetence in their endeavors. We too often disparage that. But we all have our limitations. Getting to our level of incomptence and realizing we have reached it means at least we tried.

However, I’m Lynn; my level of incompetence just happens to be where it is now, a station along the road, for I think I would like to be the ultimate chess bum.

I’m Lynn; nobody is going to dog me down.

Some day I am going to be as good at chess as I am at sports betting. And I am real good at sports betting. Year after year, I win money. Like this year, for instance; I’m kicking my bookie’s ass.

Published in: on December 5, 2007 at 12:58 am  Leave a Comment