Monday, August 27, 2007

Black Raspberry Jam

As a child, I lived with my family in a modest wood framed dwelling along Springwater Road in the tiny village of Scottsburg, New York. It was a beautiful home with white clapboard siding, and black trim. Our closest neighbor was the Harris family, and they lived in a light green house just up the hill from our property. To me they seemed strange, and a little frightening with their red hair and alabaster skin.

Early one summer’s day, more out of curiosity than hunger, I pulled a plum from a tree on their property. My Mother always said if I did something wrong I would get my due. Of course, she was correct because Mrs. Harris caught me red-handed. She seemed witch-like with her smoky dark eyes, bright white skin, and flaming red hair, and I just knew she would cast a spell on me, or worse, tell my parents. When she spoke, I heard the alarming words.

Come with me.” She said.

Into the ghoulishly green house we went. She led me into her kitchen while telling me her name was Ann. Once there she handed me a very large steel bowl.

Saying, “Since you like to pick things, I thought you might be so kind as to collect all the black berries along the creek.”

Even by my standard, the punishment fit the crime, and off to the creek I went.

Collecting the black raspberries was easy and fun. Soon I discovered that my hands, clothes, and mouth, especially my mouth, turned a deep purple from the sweet berry juice. In no time the steel bowl, and I, were full, and both happily returned to Mrs. Harris. She thanked me, and as I departed from her, these words registered in my ears.

She said, “Tell your folks that I’ll be over to see them tonight.”

Gulp! A further penitence would be required and I feared it would be in the form of a tanned backside.

After I returned home, in the forlorn hope the Mrs. Harris would forget, I said nothing and went to bed after supper. The next morning my Father awoke me and asked me to come to the kitchen table. As my Mother fixed a pancake for me, the dreaded words came from him.

He said, “Mrs. Harris came over last night and…”

I watched as he reached under the table, going for what would be, no doubt, his belt. Knowing from experience its sting, I closed my eyes.

He continued, “She asked me to give this to you.”

I waited for the sound of the belt cutting through the air.

However, I heard a different sound, such as a glass striking the table. Being curious I looked, and was dumbfounded by a small glass jar containing something dark, but what? My Mother placed a fresh pancake onto the plate in front of me.

Saying, “Mrs. Harris said you are a sweet boy to have picked all those black raspberries for her. She made this jar of jam for you, and I thought it might go well on a pancake.”

It was only black raspberry jam, what a delicious relief.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

My Playchess Rating

I thought I would give everyone a little peek at my rating on the Playchess server. This is the Blitz tab, but it's really G15. I have tried to keep my opponents Elo within 100 points of my official USCF rating of 1293. The other day I went out of the limb and played a 1590 rated player in a rated game. Fate gave me the black pieces, but I held him to a draw. I imagine he was quite upset, as he never gave me an applause. He didn't stick around for a rematch.

The tactical training is going slow due to my school studies. However, I have seen some improvement in my games. Proper chess vision is important at the board. Rarely do I drop a piece, unless I sacrifice it form some tactical shot (both real and imagined). My problem is I play inaccurately, meaning I don't play the move the position calls for. It is my belief that a person can see only so far ahead and once there he/she has to play intuitively. Most often my chess intuition has let me down.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

No Time

Oh, the joys of college homework. I am learning all types of new things, such as how to format a paper in MLA and APA. I have to learn each because I attend two different schools. Upper Iowa University uses APA, while Kansas City Kansas Community College uses MLA. Before the 8th of August I was unaware of such a format(s). Today, I am busier than a one legged man in an a** kicking contest with my Business Ethics course. I have to read 100 pages and turn in a paper by Thursday night. Great! I am sure this will help me stress related issues...not.

I don't see how the average student at an University has time for anything other than study. I must produce a paper for each class every Tuesday and Thursday. I might be a little old and slow, but I am not that old to know that each assignment eats a whole lot of time. In fact, it eats my chess playing time, my chess study time, and my family time. How do you do it, Mister College man?

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Midnight Chess Madness

Last night I couldn't get settled for a night in the house. I was pacing the floors, compulsively cleaning, and generally looking for something to do. I believe this was cause by some emotional issues brought on by a letter form my former employer. Distraction was call for! So I call Ken Fee from The Chess Club to inquire into the late night Blitz Tournament. Yes, there was a tournament. There were six players signed up already with more expected, and he would not start it until I arrived. Now it is a forty minute drive from my home in Leavenworth, Kansas, to the club in Kansas City, Missouri, and it was 9:45 PM.

My arrival at The Chess Club at 10:30 was expected, and I was promptly greeted by Ken, who by the way relieved me of $10. Oh, boy. Late night blitz action with...oh, my god...all the higher rated players in the club. Great. How the hell am I supposed to win any money against these guys, and what about my rating? Crap!! I was intimidated to say the least.

The first round was paired, and the clocks started at 11:00 PM. Blitz is so much different than the slow time control games. I think you can get an advantage against stronger players if you have a repertoire for it. I choose to use the one I use for all my tournament games, but with some modifications. Aggression is key. Get the initiative and pound away at some weakness. All out King side assaults often work, but they must succeed to win. I find I have a knack for relieving my opponent of their Queen. I do this on a regular basis, and against experience players. My downfall is that I can't manage to win in only 5 minutes.

My first games I played a very experienced 1750+ player. He has been at it for years...very fast on the clock. I had the White pieces, and chose to play the Scotch. By move 10 I had a clear advantage, and soon I would win his Queen. Near the end he had 11 seconds on the clock, and all I needed to do is play good moves. I didn't. I was checkmated with 6 seconds left on his clock. Sadly I had over a minute and twenty seven seconds. This would be the pattern my eight games. Only twice did I suffer a quick defeat, and these were against much stronger players.

The tournament went on until 1:30 AM. My score was a dismal 3/8. The good news is that I found a small boost to my rating (1294 to 1299). The bad news is that I never had a chance to unleash some of these checkmating tactics I have been studying. I will continue to train and hope the day will come when I will see the possibility in the position to launch an irresistible attack.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I Promised to Write

When I started my blog, I promised to write often. I haven't. I Joined the Knights Errant and promised to do chess tactical training. I haven't been able to do that as I should. I wanted many things in my life to improve, and they have, but not the the degree I desire. If I only could put it down on paper, or this blog, then everything would be set in stone. I would be forced to improve! That being said, I find that I am my own worse enemy. Having bitten off more than I could ever possibly chew, I find myself giving in to frustration, and giving something up. This in turn leads to not doing anything. Yes, a sorry state of affairs. I must commit to doing, and in doing so, just do! I have been making an effort to take the time and practice my tactics. Now I must take the time to write about my life experiences.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

My Training Continues

Let me just face facts. I have been to lazy to do my tactics training as I once wanted it to be done. I can make all the excuses I want, such as: Getting enrolled into college and all that is takes to get ready, Home improvements, and Traveling with my brother. All of this is garbage! I just need to make more effective use of my time. Yes, good old fashion time management. With that mantra in mind, I once more returned to my chess tactics exercises. As you can see from my history I did okay. I would have like to finish all the units positions in under an hour and with 100 percent accuracy. That was certainly not the case, but a good showing never-the-less.

Today, Blue Devil Knight mentioned the loss of Patrick Bollig's Blog "Chess for Blood". I have known for more than two weeks it went 404. Patrick was a excellent source of information on free software, how to? articles, etc. I join Blue Devil Knight's voice and ask Patrick to bring back this blog! Please!!