Even or approximately close to it

After figuring out some pieces of mathematics this weekend that I pondered for years, I fell into a fit boredom on Monday, and as usual when i am bored I dialed up 30 new chess games on the Internet while sitting in the bar. (big sigh)

Given my state of inebriation, I started out pretty well in all of them, but this morning I blundered away a knight for nothing in a game while playing before drinking my first cup of coffee. As fate would have it, I have battled back to even in the game.

There are two lessons to be learned: don’t give up when you are behind at the beginning, and things tend to even out.

Published in: on March 29, 2011 at 4:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

A tip of the hat

I spend a lot of time watching top level chess tournaments, live commentary on the games, and following the attendant computer analysis.    I can remember back in the old days of Fischer vs. Spassky in 1972 I had to wait until the next day’s paper to see the moves in their games.  The event was so highly reported that at least I knew who won each day.  Now, we have all the stuff I mentioned live on the Internet.  It’s a chess player’s dream actually.

This a guess.  Most chess players who play a lot each week are looking for ways to improve whether from harsh experience or assistance from other sources.  I’ve played or studied chess for at least 2,000 hours over the past three years.  I’ve plateaued in my rating, etc., but what keeps my interest is the chance I may improve.

That being said, I sometimes look at the game statistics of the weakest players on the Internet.  Surprisingly, many have played thousands of games with no improvement.  Some of the games are excellent examples of how not to play chess.  It mystifies me as to how they persevere.

It must be sheer love of the game.  And I admire those players the most.

Published in: on December 13, 2010 at 12:16 pm  Leave a Comment  

The human touch

You are watching and listening to the grandmaster commentary of the London Chess Classic being played right now.  Who would have thought that chess, in its infancy, would grow up to be infinitely interesting?

But when you meditate on the question and think about Anand, Carlsen, and Kramnik playing in the tournament, the answer is not so hard to come up with.

The human touch.

Published in: on December 10, 2010 at 10:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Chess at oh-dark thirty

Woke at 3 AM to watch the start of round 6 of the World Chess Olympiad.  Playing the matches in Mongolia has ruined my sleep this past week.


Published in: on September 27, 2010 at 4:11 am  Leave a Comment  

Chance and logic

Some people say there is no luck in chess.  It’s all a matter of skill and logic.  I disagree.  I had two opponents blunder away won games this morning.  Logic went on holiday.

When humans play chess, emotion and confusion always play a role in determining the result.  “Chance happeneth to them all.”

Published in: on July 7, 2010 at 10:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Breakfast at dawn

Two Rooks on the seventh rank followed by a yummy checkmate for breakfast.  A new day dawns.

Published in: on July 5, 2010 at 4:49 am  Leave a Comment  

Humid etc.

Humid.  Sweating humid.  Blackhawks lost another game.

But it’s all-night Friday chess coming up.  Me against the world.  I hope I win one this time around.

Published in: on June 4, 2010 at 10:33 pm  Comments (1)  

In Astrakhan

After five and one half hours of chess play in Astrakhan, the Radjabov/Yue match ends in a draw.  Radjabov earns a position in the playoffs to challenge for the world championship.

The final round of the US chess championship starts at two Central time.  Should be some good chess coming out of that thing too.

Published in: on May 24, 2010 at 11:36 am  Leave a Comment  

Mad with chess

This courtesy of chessgames.com.

I went frantically mad with chess.  I bought a chess-board.  I bought Il Calabrese. I shut myself up in my room and spent days and nights there with a will to learn all the games by heart, to cram them into my head willy-nilly, to play alone without end or remission. After two or three months working in that fine way, and after unimaginable endeavours, I went to the Cafe with a lean and sallow face, and nearly stupid. I made a trial, playing with Monsieur Bagueret again. He beat me once, twice, twenty times.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Published in: on May 7, 2010 at 6:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Chess: get some

The fifth Anand/Topalov world chess championship game is about to begin.  I wish a tiny fraction of their knowledge or intuition would rub off on me.

Published in: on April 30, 2010 at 7:39 am  Leave a Comment  

Feel the clock tick

You are watching a world chess championship game.  You study the current position as the minutes tick off the clock.  You can’t explain this extravagant use of your time.  Other than to say, it’s a honey of a chess game–mesmerizing.

Published in: on April 28, 2010 at 8:39 am  Leave a Comment  

World Chess Championship

Anand/Topalov WCC game four starts in 27 minutes.  Match all tied up.

Published in: on April 28, 2010 at 6:38 am  Leave a Comment  


I spent a gorgeous afternoon playing chess at the North Avenue chess pavilion on Lake Michigan and thought about what it would be like to be omniscient–what I could infer from it,

The gorgeous spring day and those thoughts about omniscience conspired against me.   I lost six hard fought chess games and won none.

Published in: on April 15, 2010 at 6:29 pm  Comments (1)  

She’s passed out and I am playing Friday late night chess

I knew it.  As soon as I got to her place, she passed out.  But that’s OK.  I am safely ensconced in her place with a cup of coffee in hand and my laptop logged into her Wi-Fi network.  And it is time for Friday late night chess on the Internet.

(Look out, I think I have my game with me tonight.)

She’s going to hate me in the morning when I am passed out from playing too much chess.  Being synchronized isn’t always the most important thing though.

I wonder what is.  The most important thing–that is.

Published in: on March 26, 2010 at 11:41 pm  Leave a Comment  

Bobby Fischer: when chess was cool

Bobby Fischer’s birthday was yesterday.  Even people who don’t play chess recognize his name.  People know about his notorious world championship match with Boris Spaasky.

I remember 1972 when playing chess was cool.  Even the most humble casual players, like me, could always find a game.

Published in: on March 10, 2010 at 9:53 am  Leave a Comment  

Ain’t it the truth?

Chess, like love, is infectious at any age.

Salo Flohr

Published in: on March 8, 2010 at 12:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

Just say no to draws

I’m finally learning how to win won endgames in chess instead getting slickered into draws.  Yeh-ah!

Published in: on March 4, 2010 at 12:36 pm  Leave a Comment  

Chess and Football

Let’s face it, by common consent, from Grandmasters to fans, the chess world championship has been in disarray for almost 20 years.  First of all, the championship is not played every year as it is in other sports.  The terms of who gets to compete for the title, the format of competition, and the venues for play are always under chaotic negotiation.  It is only in the past few years that Vishy Anand has been recognized as the reigning champion.

Only the top grandmasters make a living on the chess tournament circuit.  In a global game such as chess, a game universally enjoyed by so many, that seems odd.  Chess competition should tear a page out of global football’s book.  To attract fans, thereby money, there should be plenty of top flight competition all year long with that competition ending in a championship match.  Fans should know when the top tournaments will be played that lead to the championship title.  They should know when a top match between players will happen in the playoffs.  As of right now, only the serious chess devotees can penetrate the confusing playoff system.

If the chess world wants a slice of the money to be had from world games, they need to move from their 19th century model to the current 21st century model of global football.  I know the next leg of the Champions League is next week, who plays whom, the time the games start, where games will be played, and who is broadcasting the games live.  That’s not the case with chess.

Chess World, we need an annual well regulated and communicated contest for the world championship.  Individual games should be decided within a duration that holds the fans interest and fits their time constraints.  Plus, chess fans want more live broadcasts of major events.

Think football style, Chess World.

Published in: on March 3, 2010 at 10:08 am  Leave a Comment  


I was playing chess with a friend this afternoon, on the clock, and my time was running out.  I looked up from the board, rubbed my eyes, sighed, said finger fuck to myself, and looked back down at the board, then discovered I had forced checkmate in five moves.

I won the game before the flag fell.  I’m still wondering where those moves came from and why I saw them.

Published in: on February 16, 2010 at 12:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Drunk chess and blueberry pie

A few games of blitz chess.  He has had far less to drink than I did tonight, but he’s way more drunk.  I crush him.  I go home and eat the last slice of blueberry pie.

I meditate in the dark about how much I love drunk chess–and blueberry pie for that matter.

Published in: on February 10, 2010 at 11:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Drunken Chess

I’ve been playing a lot of drunken chess tonight, and winning too. How good could I be if I was stone cold sober for awhile? I think people would hate me if I was even better just because I was sober.,

They’d consider it cheating.

Published in: on January 29, 2010 at 11:52 pm  Leave a Comment  


Sitting in the bar at five till midnight, studying Capablanca’s Chess Fundamentals with my pocket chess set sitting on the bar in front of me, I realize how little life changes, for that is exactly what I was doing 40 years ago in California when I was a Marine.

Published in: on January 16, 2010 at 2:22 am  Leave a Comment  

Annals of books: Capablanca

It was the summer of 1969 and I was working at the Camp Pendleton Brig.  Except for drinking, taking drugs, and fishing in the Pacific Ocean for fish I didn’t really like to eat, I was bored.  Then a friend challenged me to a game of chess.  I became interested, then addicted.  He left the Marine Corps shortly after that and bequeathed me his chess set and a copy of Jose R. Capablanca’s Chess Fundamentals.  (Of course, we know Capablanca as World Chess Champion during the 1920’s and one of the greatest players of all time.)

I studied Chess Fundamentals every day back then.  My game got better.  I did not know it at the time, but Chess Fundamentals had been a standard text on how to play the game since its publication in 1921.  It still is a chess classic.

When I started playing chess again two years ago, I plucked Chess Fundamentals out of the stack and commenced studying it anew.  I found it just as fresh and challenging as I did in 1969.  Capablanca writes with an almost arrogant haughty diction.  I don’t know if that is an aspect of one of his personae or just because of the esteem in which he held the game.

Unfortunately, time ravaged my old copy of the book and it fell apart this year.  I bought a new copy.  It sits beside the chessboard and computer as I write this.

One measure of the personal meaning of a book is the hours spent with it over a lifetime.  I guess by that standard Capablanca’s book is one of the most important to me, for I have spent uncountable hours with it.  I doubt if I will ever master Capablanca’s teachings, but the teachings fit with the nature of chess.  The game can consume a whole lifetime and never be mastered in any significant manner except loving its purity and the pleasure it gives.

Besides all that, I wish I could write as well as Capablanca.  I’m a sucker for an austere and precise prose style.

Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 12:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

Still annoying

I’ve had my chess addiction under control for most of the year, but now it’s back with a vengeance.  Nothing has changed either.  I still find it annoying when I lose.

Published in: on November 17, 2009 at 11:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Tal Memorial: Anand vs. Kramnik

The Tal Memorial chess tournament just started in Moscow today.  All the world’s best players are there except Topolov.  You can watch the Anand vs. Kramnik game live on the Internet early this morning on chessgames.com, a revenge match after Anand’s latest victory over Kramnik in the World Championship this past year.

I already have my alarm clock set for oh-dark-thirty because chess at the highest level is the best thing going in “sports”.

Published in: on November 6, 2009 at 12:27 am  Leave a Comment