Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What did I do this July?

To all of my loyal readers...I am sorry for the lack of entries and content. I have had a busy July. To start off, my eldest brother Rodney came to collect me on July 3rd. This was so I could see how he made his living driving the big rigs on long haul refrigerated freight. Riding in the truck was an unique experience and I found it interesting. Our trip started from Leavenworth, Kansas, and by July 5th we were in a small town in New Jersey unloading some produce. Before I go any further I want to say that one must live in this truck. You eat there and sleep there and even make your toilet there. The truck must roll-on if a profit is to be made. After New Jersey we hauled orange juice to New Orleans, Louisiana. From there we haul Jalapeno peppers to Appleton, Wisconsin. It was now July 10th and I had went 4,300 miles in seven days.

Part of the reason my brother choose this time to take me in his truck was so I could visit his home in Little Chute, Wisconsin. This charming little city is about 25 miles south of Green Bay. Of course, I visited Green Bay and Lambeau Field...home of the Green Bay Packers. Hell, I even went to a bar called Fuzzy's #63 and had a draft beer. This bar is owned by Packer great Fuzzy Thurston; who played during the Vince Lombardi era.

My next experience in Wisconsin was going to Wisconsin Dells. My sister-in-law, Pam, said this was a must see. So early on a Friday morning we started out. I was very interested in the attractions, especially any roller coasters. As luck would have it I would get my coaster ride at the Timber Falls amusement park. This simple little park was set-up more for miniature golf, but it did have the Avalanche. This coaster was a hybrid consisting of wood with steel supports. In my opinion, it was a nice ride...fast and fun! Click here to take a ride. I did many fun things on this trip and I will share some more in the coming days.

I returned home on July 15th and have been busy getting enrolled into Upper Iowa University. I had intended to annotate one of my games from Birthday Bash at The Chess Club. I will most likely cover my loss in the Caro-Kann against Dan Holmes. It should be interesting!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Department of Veterans Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation

It is my considered opinion that the United States Government does only a few things really well. Among the things I would say it does right is: collecting tax, the U.S. Postal Service, and providing for the veterans of the military who were disabled due to their service. One of the programs the Department of Veterans Affairs runs is Vocational Rehabilitation. This is a great service because it makes available a quality college level education for disabled veterans. Many of these veterans can no longer work in a physically demanding job, but don't have the needed education and training to be hired in an upper management positions. Yes, a desk job (a nice paying one if you can get it). That is why the sheep's skin with the "University of Somewhere" written on it is very important. It is the key that opens the door so the veteran can earn the living he or she deserves. Why not? Ofttimes these men and women gave an arm, leg, sight, hearing, and emotional well being for the country. I believe, and I would hope you would agree, that the nation should repay the debt owed to this person in a way that makes this individual a productive member of the work force.

I am one of these disabled veterans. Trust me...nothing has been given to me; other than a hard time. However, I applied for Vocational Rehabilitation and after a lot of aptitude testing and college placement exams I was accepted. I have been enrolled into Upper Iowa University as a freshman pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Business Management. I haven't been to school in 27 years. Hopefully I will do well and get an office with a view.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I was tagged

1) Blogger name and URL? The Retired Pawn/theretiredpawn

2) How did you learn about the Circles? I was searching for chess improvement ideas by visiting Susan Polgar's blog when I saw a post by "Chess for Blood". His ideas seemed sound, so I visited his blog and followed it regularly. He didn't subscribe to the ideas as outlined in the book "Rapid Chess Improvement", but he did practice tactics. When he closed his blog he recommended Blue Devil Knight's blog and I started following that. I started the circles as a way of holding my nose to the grind stone.

3) When? June 2007.

4) How long have you been going through the Circles, or if you have finished, how long did it take? Since mid-June 2007.

5) How is your progress? I have worked through 19 units of Tactics One in the prefab circles of the Personal Chess Trainer. This has help my OTB vision and my USCF Rating has risen from 1206 to 1293 thus far.

6) Would working with the Circles alone work well in terms of chess improvement, or does it help more to join the Knight Errant to monitor and discuss the Circles? I think one could do the circle by his or her self. That being said, I believe working within a group provides the support needed to follow through with the exercise.

7) Are you a scholastic player? No.

8) Would you recommend this method, the Circles, to scholastic players? Yes, I would! I believe the pattern recognition would be invaluable and last a life time. I would also recommend that they spend a considerable amount of time playing through and analyzing classic games, plus work on endgames and strategy in order to be a more complete chess player.

9) Do you use other chess training methods along with the Circles? If any, could you summarize them? Yes. I use books and I review my games. I found that Lev Alburt's Comprehensive Chess Course Volumes 1, 2, 3, 6, and 7 to be of great help. I would also recommend Jeremy Silman's Reassess your chess. I know the Knights dislike Silman, but I found it to be good advice generally. I find if I review my games 3 times over I derive a great benefit and find continuations that often would lead to a win. I verify with Fritz 10 all of my improvements.

10) Any general comments about chess training or the Circles you'd like to provide? Do post mortems with the strongest players you can find and listen to their suggestions on play. I would caution that you don't just accept what comes out of their mouth as the final word. Quite often I have found an error in their analysis, but it the ideas they provide that truly help. Simply put...all those years of experience often provide the correct path.

I tag: Hard Days Knight

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

The Chess Club's Birthday Bash...CASH!

Last Friday night my chess club celebrated it's 5th Birthday. I believe I had mentioned in a previous post that I was preparing and had made plans to play in the Open. I studied my repertoire and practised tactics and endgames until I thought I was as ready as I was going to get. This put me into wee hours of Friday morning. Then the unexpected happened. My spouse had just had some surgery and the site had become infected. She would need to go to the doctor's office first thing in the morning, like 6 Am. That meant I would have to be up at 5 o'clock to get a shower. No time for sufficient sleep. Maybe after the doctor's visit...it never came to pass.

I arrived at the Chess Club in a zombie-like state. How in the name of goodness would I be able to play chess? Hmm...free pizza. That is going to help. Oh, coffee! Maybe that would get me going? Birthday Cake!! That tastes good, but will the sugar sustain me or will I crash further after the sugar high? Questions with no answers.

The Open kicked off at 7 PM with the starting of the clocks. My first opponent was a guy named Kiran and he seemed to know what he was doing at first. However, I noticed he was unprepared for complications in the middle game; so I endeavored to make it as messy I could. I would go on and win this first game, but only after struggling to write the notation on the score sheet. My mind was not working very well and I had two competing disciplines to deal with...aggghhh! The next round started at 8:45 PM. I played my friend Dan. Last time we had met over the board he had the Black pieces, and went for the Sicilian Dragon set up. That time I missed a win at move 15 and that game ended in a draw. As luck would have it, he once again would have the Black pieces. I was waiting to see if he would try the Dragon one more time. The first victory in chess is to actually make someone give up their pet opening against you...by this standard I won. He opted for the Caro-Kann. The only time I played with this system was during my reading of "Tal-Botvinnik 1960" (I highly recommend this book). Great! How to proceed? I played my heart and lost. I believe that some improvements can be made to my play to increase my chances. My first suggestion would be try a different system within the Caro-Kann. The Next would be at sixth move. I played 6. Bd3 (which was logical), but theory says 6. Nxf6 is correct. There are other places where my play was less than I should except. Notably, both the move 9. Bd2N and 13. Bc3 are inaccurate and lead to my demise. Completely spent from that ordeal, I gathered more of the cake and ate myself into shape (perhaps if I kept on eating I would have a new shape). The last round started at 11 PM and my opponent's name was George. He played some wacky English set up with the White pieces that lead to a small, but steadily increasing advantage for me. We would play 50 moves before I delivered mate.

Everything was all said and done at 12:20 AM. My score of 2/3 was good enough to win some ca$h and give me a small boost in my USCF rating. The drive home was another adventure.