Sunday, July 27, 2008

Watching the Storm Roll In

Washington, Connecticut
July 27, 2008

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

French Dip

Kids: When you weaken your kingside pawn structure, beware. Of course, it doesn't help to fall behind needlessly in material, either.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Your Moment of Zen XI

For those of you wondering why I have't gone out and bought my cats one of thise spiffy kitty playgrounds like the one Elizabeth Vicary has (scroll down in the post), it's really quite simple: I'm not sure they'll use it.

While Elizabeth's cats are obviously intelligent enough to know when something is intended for their use, I have no such confidence in Lyra (pictured here) and Yoda. They're always in the way, getting under foot, and appropriating houshold items that simply weren't meant for feline use. The root of the problem, I reluctantly conclude, is that they just aren't that smart. I know that must sound terribly insensitive and speciesist in these times of harmonic convergence, when all the creatures of the earth coexist on a basis of mutual respect, but there it is.

Feel free to provide captions to the above. The same prizes as always are on offer for the best.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blowing It With One Bad Move

Kids: How many times have I admonished you about king safety? (No, I don't need an exact number; it's a rhetorical question.) And do you listen?

Okay, so maybe you do: good. But do I listen -- to my own advice? Not from the look of this game. I had the advantage throughout. I was turning up the pressure, controling space, and was up a rook to a pawn, but in my lust for material, and because I ignored my opponent's attack while pursuing my own plans, I enabled him/her to swoop down and mate me.

My big blunder was 30. g3, which made mate inevitable. Even after 29. ... Qh4, with Black's queen and knight bearing down on my king, Chessmaster scores the game at 6.62 -- a big lead for White.

The move I missed was 30.Qxf7, which would have protected the f2 square and pressured Black's king. Chessmaster's continuation: 30. ... Qxh2+ 31.Kf1 Qh1+ 32.Ke2 Nf6 33.Qe6 Qh5+ 34.f3 Qg6 35.Qf5 Qxf5 36.exf5 Nd5 37.Nb5 Nf4+ 38.Kf1 d5 39.Rb7.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Street Chess By the Bay

As I think I've said before, I'm a sucker for street chess. Here's an excerpt from a documentary on the game as it's played in San Francisco. Is that Market Street?

And, yes, money is changing hands. It happens.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Your Moment of Zen X

Feel free to provide the caption

Wacky Monday

Kids: Don't play the way Black did in this "miniature." Bad development and exposing your king encourages your opponent to attack early, generally with tragic results.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Blaze Heats Up

The Chicago Blaze, one of two new expansion teams in the United States Chess League (USCL), now has a Web site and a blog. (Yours truly will be one of the regular posters.) The team is getting ready for its first season, which begins on August 25 with a match against the Arizona Scorpions, the league’s other new team.

This week the Blaze issued an official press release with a preview of the what’s to come. The schedule is now posted online. Mark your calendars and plan to follow all the action throughout September, October, and into the November playoffs.

Meanwhile, Elizabeth Vicary is conducting a poll on her blog to see who people think will win the USCL championship this year. You can vote for the team you think most likely to win.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Borders Slashes Business Hours

Hyde Park chess players squeezed again

The Borders bookstore on 53rd Street and Lake Park Ave., where Hyde Park chess players have found perhaps their warmest welcome since being unceremoniously ousted from Harper Court several years ago, has cut back its daily hours of operation, now closing every evening at 8:00. The store was previously open until 10:00 on weeknights and 11:00 on weekends.

The reason for the new hours wasn’t immediately clear, though there have been reports in the Chicago media that certain Borders stores, including the one in Hyde Park, might be slated for eventual closing as a result of a shift in the company’s corporate strategy. I have no recent information on this or whether the change of hours indicates anything about the store's eventual fate.

The new schedule does mean, however, that chess players, who play continuously in their cozy perch on the east end of the store’s second-floor cafĂ©, will have their evening games cut short. The store has given refuge to a group of itinerant chess players who have been part of the Hyde Park scene for many years. Though they are mostly adult men, some star members of the Ray School Chess Club, including Phillip Parker-Turner and Sonam Ford, play there regulary.

In other developments, the storefront on 53rd between Greenwood and Ellis that was home to the former Hayden Market, which once provided a haven for chess players, is now empty. The establishment was taken over last year by new proprietors who immediately put an end to chess at the store. What exactly happened is a matter of some dispute, but if the new management thought that banishing chess was its key to success, they appear to have miscalculated.

Elsewhere, I have seen no chess at all this season outside the Starbucks on 53rd and Harper, where players gathered regularly in previous years, though the royal game is being played vigorously, weather permitting, at the two chess tables in Harold Washington Park, 53rd Street and Hyde Park Boulevard.

Monday, July 07, 2008

The People Have Spoken

Here are the results of our recent poll. I think it’s clear who people want for vice president.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Chess in the Park, Part II

“Chess is like ginger ale. No one thinks about bringing it, but people love it when someone remembers it.”
For the second year in a row, the truth of LEP’s prescient, profound, and prophetic observation has been proven true at the 4th of July celebration in Chicago’s Nichols Park. No one thought about chess, no one asked for it, but someone remembered it yesterday, and kids and adults were all over it like a cheap suit.

Please forgive the clichĂ©; it’s a simile I enjoy too much to resist. More photos here.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Your Independence Day Moment of Zen

For life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, peace, social justice, chess, and all that good stuff.

Moment of Zen IX.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Chess in the Park Tomorrow

Everyone had such a great time when we did this a year ago that we're going to do it again. If all goes as planned, I'll be out there in Nichols Park tomorrow during the July 4th festivities with chess sets so anybody who wants to can come and play. The kids had a great time last year. Maybe this year we can get some adults to play.

The 4th of July parade in Hyde Park is scheduled to reach Nichols Park at about noon on Friday, so that's when things should get started. Look for us at the two concrete chess tables just south of the 54th Street cul du sac ("dead end" where I come from) between Kimbark and Kenwood. Come and play, very informal.

"A" marks the spot

Breaking News: Bush Tours America

This just in: the president takes bold action in response to the crisis

Wacky Wednesday on Thursday

It's been awhile since I posted a Wacky Wednesday game, and while I'm a day late with this one there's little doubt that it meets the criteria for wackiness. I'm Black in this online game. Was my opponent a lemming?

game viewer: