Thursday, April 30, 2009

Keeping it real tune wise ...

I don't have a particular favorite music genre - if it sounds good I am into it. Here's a great clip of a guy taking a highly produced studio track from the Black Eyed Peas and taking down to a more grass roots level:

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Louis Caldera's Scare Force 1: New Yorkers in a Panic as Large Plane and Fighter Jet Fly around Lower Manhattan

I was shocked to find out that Louis Caldera, the head of the United States White House Military Office (Air Force 1) approved a photo shoot mission that involved flying a Boeing 747 with a F-16 fighter plane escort in lower Manhattan, very close to Skyscrapers, frightening New Yorkers and causing a lot of panic and worry.

I have no idea what the purpose of such a photo shoot would be, but it's not hard to imagine how many people were totally freaked out by the experience! Seeing a large passenger plane with a fighter jet close on it's tail in the same general area of 9-11 would be absolutely horrible, especially when the general public had no clue it was just a photo op.

The following YouTube videos show just how much chaos this little operation caused, and I am sure this is just the tip of the iceberg:





The full CNN report on this incident can be read here, along with video and interviews

Unbelievable. I guess common sense is lacking in the White House Military Office, which given its important responsibilities, is quite disturbing.

jrobichess makes chess videos and has a chess blog along with a personal chess site at http://www.jrobichess.com.

Draws in Chess - A solution to High Draw Percentage in Tournament Play


I posted this back in 2007 and am re-posting it due to the discussion of draws spreading around the chess blogosphere again, namely a recent Chessbase article in which a variety of "solutions" are proposed (such as changing the size of the board, method of play, etc):

It's game 7 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in Hockey. 3rd Period, 2 minutes to go, tie score. A coach calls a time out and walks over the other bench, and offers the other coach a draw, giving each team 3.5 points, and an equal share of the Stanley Cup.

Possible? Not on your life! The fans would drop the sport completely and denounce it as professional competition. Pockets of fans would remain, but the media and news organizations wouldn't bother covering the event any longer. Why bother - draws can be decided before the contest even begins by competitors lacking integrity, and there will never be a sure-fire way to determine if it was rigged way before the contest even began. Why give worthwhile news coverage to events that are questionable before they even start! Such doubts are what destroys competitive sports as soon as fans start to believe deals are being made behind closed doors.

What does this have to do with chess you might be thinking? Well, consider the following scenario:

A group of Grandmaster competitors converge on a highly anticipated tournament. 3 GM's of a field of 12 play their hearts out, with their supporters keeping track on internet blogs and chess servers of their progress. One GM has a score of 11-0, one has 10-1 and the other has 10 and 2. The GM with the score of 11-0 offers the GM with 10-1 a draw fairly early in the match. The GM being offered the draw has lost against the current leader 4 out of their last 5 encounters, and does not want to split the prize fund for second place if he drops to 10-2. Or in some formats, he might simply want to avoid having to fight for second place. He accepts the draw.

The winner claims the prize with a 11.5 point total. Second place claims the prize with a 10.5 point total, and the last GM finished 3rd with 10 points.

Who loses out in this example? The GM's? Maybe the 3rd place GM if it was a format where he would have had a chance at playing to win second place. But honestly, it's the fans of chess that lost out the most along with the credibility of the competition in general.

Now let me say this: Draws and Stalemates are extremely important to chess. But I question their importance in competitive play. If tournament participants reach a draw, it should be at the credit of their good play, but it should not end there. There should be a rematch until a clear winner of that 1 point is determined. If someone can force a stalemate or draw, good for them. They might very well have salvaged a losing position. However, their only reward should be another shot at that 1 point against the same player. While things like Armageddon Blitz might not be indicitive of skill, it's definitely exciting to watch the GM's face off in a blitz game due to an inability to secure the win in the longer time formats of the tournament.

Would it make tournaments longer? Sure - a little bit! Just like overtime in any other professional sports. Fans love it! The media loves it! Everyone is waiting with baited breath to see who will rise above their competitor and finally secure the win! Just take a look at how viral the Armageddon Blitz videos become, and how controversial they are sometimes.

I believe this is where competitive chess needs to go. There can be no doubts, chess is really suffering from a lack of media coverage and exposure. How many newspapers covered the results of recent championships? None around my area, and from what I am reading very few in North America in general. Questionable draws and tournament results over the years have turned many media organizations and people in general away from the following chess. Many believe that results are rigged when draws end up altering the outcome of tournament results - and can we blame them?

If chess is going to gain popularity and media coverage, things have to change. The issue of draws is just one thing, the overall organization of how world champions are selected is another. In its current form, Chess has too many things working against it that is stopping it from reaching a mass audience and an equal share of coverage that chess enthusiasts like us know that it definitely DESERVES!

So in summary, I believe the solution to draws is the following, and it definitely does not include any kind of fundamental game change as proposed in the chessbase article: 1 point for win, 0 points for loss, and when draws happen, let them blitz right after the game in an "overtime" Armageddon Blitz format to see who wins the point with the loser getting nothing.


jrobichess makes chess videos and has a chess blog along with a personal chess site at http://www.jrobichess.com.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Chess Game Annotation: How would you play?

I recommend not using a chess engine for the first draft of your annotations, and then checking through with the engine after if you have the software to do so. Focus on your thoughts and understanding first and once that's done, double check your thoughts with an engine.

When you're done share your annotated version in the comment section. Feel free to be criticial of either side:

[Event "Friendly Game - Annotation 1"]
[Site "Café"]
[Date "2009.04.25"]
[Round "?"]
[White "?"]
[Black "?"]
[Result "0-1"]
[ECO "A80"]

1. d4 f5 {This is the format you would use to add your comments} 2. e3 Nf6 3.
Nd2 d5 4. Ngf3 g6 5. c4 c6 6. c5 Bg7 7. Ne5 Ne4 8. Ndf3 O-O 9. Bd3 Nd7 10. O-O
Nxe5 11. dxe5 Qc7 12. Qb3 Bxe5 13. Nxe5 Qxe5 14. f3 Nxc5 0-1

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chess Tactic - Can you spot the mistake?


I was browsing Grandmaster Nigel Short's game database on http://www.jrobichess.com and GM Peter Nielsen played Ng6 against Short in this 2008 Chess Olympiad game - can you spot the problem with this move? What do you think the plan was before he played it?

[Event "2008 Olympiad"]
[Site "Dresden GER"]
[Date "2008.11.14"]
[Round "2"]
[White "Nigel Short"]
[Black "Peter Heine Nielsen"]
[Result "1-0"]
[BlackElo "2662"]
[ECO "C42"]
[EventDate "2008.11.13"]
[PlyCount "91"]
[WhiteElo "2642"]

1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. Nxe5 d6 4. Nf3 Nxe4 5. d3 Nf6 6. d4 d5 7. Bd3 Be7 8. h3
Nc6 9. a3 O-O 10. O-O Re8 11. Nc3 h6 12. Re1 Bf8 13. Bf4 Rxe1+ 14. Qxe1 Bd6 15.
Qd2 Be6 16. Re1 Bxf4 17. Qxf4 Nh5 18. Qe3 Nf6 19. Ne2 Qd6 20. Ng3 Ne7 21. Ne5
Qb6 22. f4 Nc6 23. c3 Re8 24. b4 Ne7 25. f5 Bc8 26. Ng4 Nxg4 27. hxg4 Qd6 28.
g5 hxg5 29. Qxg5 f6 30. Qh4 Bd7 31. c4 Nc8 32. Rxe8+ Bxe8 33. c5 Qe7 34. Kf2 a6
35. Ne2 Bb5 36. Bxb5 axb5 37. Qf4 Qd7 38. g4 Ne7 39. Qf3 Kf7 40. Nf4 c6 41. Qh1
Kg8 42. Qh5 Qc8 43. Kg2 Qb8 44. Ne6 Qc8 45. Qh2 Ng6 46. fxg6 1-0

jrobichess makes chess videos and has a chess blog along with a personal chess site at http://www.jrobichess.com.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Major Overhaul of the Grandmaster Chess Games Collection on http://www.jrobichess.com

I spent some time (most likely too much time!) overhauling the design and layout of the Grandmaster Chess Games collection on http://www.jrobichess.com/. Now every grandmaster will have a short bio and picture along with their games and a link to their bio on Wikipedia for those interested in exploring their stories further. Head on over to the main page and check out the new layouts - the tournament files also have this update.

jrobichess makes chess videos and has a chess blog along with a personal chess site at http://www.jrobichess.com.

Chess Games of Grandmaster Alexander Kotov Added to http://www.jrobichess.com

I have added the chess game collection of Alexander Kotov to the main site at http://www.jrobichess.com. Alexander Alexandrovich Kotov was a Soviet chess grandmaster and author. He was a Soviet champion, a two-time world title Candidate, and a prolific chess author. Kotov served in high posts in the Soviet Chess Federation and most of his books were written during the period of Cold War between the USA and the USSR. Therefore, his works tended to be rather critical of (and occasionally somewhat dismissive toward) American players. Russian players, on the other hand, were presented and described in a particularly favorable light.

Kotov's books also included frequent praise for the Soviet system in general. For example, the 1958 book The Soviet School of Chess (which he co-wrote with Mikhail Yudovich) stated that "The rise of the Soviet school to the summit of world chess is a logical result of socialist cultural development." At the time, statements such as this were sufficiently controversial that Western publishers felt compelled to include disclaimers in versions of his books that were translated for distribution to English-speaking countries. Dover Publications, Inc.'s 1961 paperback version of The Soviet School of Chess was distributed primarily to Western countries and included an introduction that stated "...literature of this type, though helpful in our ultimate understanding of the game, is very often riddled with distortion. The publishers of this Dover edition are very much concerned that readers be aware of the propaganda techniques employed, even in the history of chess, by the Soviet Union."

Notwithstanding Kotov's forays into the political realm, his books were insightful and informative and were written in a congenial style. He often made his points by citing first-hand stories of incidents involving famous grandmasters, most of whom he knew personally. Such entertaining and enlightening personal accounts helped to ensure that his books would remain popular among chess players of widely varying nationalities and playing strengths.

Source: Wikipedia

jrobichess makes chess videos and has a chess blog along with a personal chess site at http://www.jrobichess.com.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Why Chess Should Be a Part of Every Child’s Education

By Laura Sherman

Imagine a world where people all have excellent problem solving skills, where they are patient and respectful of each other on a daily basis. A society where citizens live for the future and plan long term, thinking of where their children’s children will be, following through, seeing each goal to its conclusion with ease. Now add to that an indefinable quality of artistic imagination, dreaming for more than can be reasonably expected, reaching beyond the status quo.

Chess can teach our next generation all these skills and more!

I learned the game when I was young and to this day I see the world as a giant chess game where any barrier can be conquered and any victory can be achieved. No goal is impossible and when I have a target in sight there is no stopping me. The same glint I had in my eye when I faced an opponent at a chess tournament still exists today when I face a challenge, along with the insouciant grin that comes from the pure joy of the experience.

Intuitively most would agree that chess improves a student’s grades and ability to study. Numerous studies have been done over the years throughout the world that show this to be the case. IQ increases, reading test results improve as do math and science scores. However there are so many other skills children pick up naturally from learning and becoming good at chess.

Imagination is a must in chess. You cannot form strategies and tactical plans without being able to envision your goals. It is impossible to win a game without first imagining the victory. You are the one to make the pieces dance to the rhythm you choose. Without the player the pieces just sit dormant on a dusty board.

A child’s self confidence soars as the victories pile up, especially when that child can routinely trounce adults. Allow that child to teach other children or perhaps even the adults and he or she will master the game quickly. Nothing helps someone learn faster than teaching others and nothing does more for one’s pride than to see someone improve under one’s tutelage.

In order to achieve a victory one must consistently play well throughout the game. You can make forty excellent moves and one thoughtless blunder and lose the game instantly. As a result you quickly learn to be thorough in your analysis and patient with your moves. Imagine if we all applied this little lesson to our daily lives. Thoughtless comments, heat of the moment bursts of anger, crimes of passion might just become things of the past to be studied as a part of a history lesson.

If every parent initiated regular family chess nights and if every school taught chess as part of their daily lesson plan imagine where our country could be. Children naturally are drawn to chess. If you don’t believe me try an easy experiment. Go to an area populated with children, put out a chess set and see what happens. I promise you they will flock to the board and become immersed in a game. We all have the power to fuel our children’s existing passion for learning and help our next generation soar. Let’s make a difference!

Laura Sherman founded Your Chess Coach (http://www.yourchesscoach.com/) with her husband, Dan Sherman. Together they teach children to play chess through various schools in Pinellas County, Florida, as well as privately in students’ homes and online.

jrobichess makes chess videos and has a chess blog along with a personal chess site at http://www.jrobichess.com.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Chess For Children with Malik and Omar


I always think it's great when kids teach other children about chess! Here's a couple smart ones breaking down the pieces and their placement on the 64 square battlefield.

jrobichess makes chess videos and has a chess blog along with a personal chess site at http://www.jrobichess.com.

Aron Nimzowitsch Chess Games added to http://www.jrobichess.com


The chess games of Aron Nimzowitsch are now available on http://www.jrobichess.com/. Nimzowitsch is considered one of the most important players and writers in chess history. His works influenced numerous other players, including Savielly (Ksawery) Tartakower, Milan Vidmar, Richard Réti, Akiba Rubinstein, Bent Larsen, and Tigran Petrosian, and his influence is still felt today.

He wrote three books on chess strategy: Mein System (My System), 1925, Die Praxis meines System (The Practice of My System), 1929, commonly known as Chess Praxis, and Die Blockade (The Blockade), 1925. The last of these has just been reissued in a volume containing both the German original and the English translation published by Hardinge Simpole. However, much that is in it is covered again in Mein System. It is said that 99 out of 100 chess masters have read Mein System; consequently, most consider it to be Nimzowitsch's greatest contribution to chess. It sets out Nimzowitsch's most important ideas, while his second most influential work, Chess Praxis, elaborates upon these ideas, adds a few new ones, and has immense value as a stimulating collection of Nimzowitsch's own games, even when these games are more entertaining than instructive.

Nimzowitsch's chess theories flew in the face of convention. While there were those like Alekhine, Emanuel Lasker, and even Capablanca who did not live by Tarrasch's rigid teachings, the acceptance of Tarrasch's ideas, all simplifications of the more profound work of Wilhelm Steinitz, was nearly universal. That the center had to be controlled by pawns and that development had to happen in support of this control — the core ideas of Tarrasch's chess philosophy — were things every beginner thought to be irrefutable laws of nature, like gravity.

Many chess openings and variations are named after Nimzowitsch, the most famous being the Nimzo-Indian Defence (1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 Bb4) and the less often played Nimzowitsch Defence (1.e4 Nc6). Nimzowitsch biographer Grandmaster Raymond Keene and others have referred to 1.Nf3 followed by 2.b3 as the Nimzowitsch-Larsen Attack. Keene wrote a book about the opening with that title. All of these openings exemplify Nimzowitsch's ideas about controlling the center with pieces instead of pawns. Nimzowitsch was also vital in the development of two important systems in the French Defence, the Winawer Variation (in some places called the Nimzowitsch Variation; its moves are 1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. Nc3 Bb4) and the Advance Variation (1. e4 e6 2. d4 d5 3. e5). He also pioneered two provocative variations of the Sicilian Defence, both regarded as dubious today: the Nimzowitsch Variation, 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nf6, which invites 3.e5 Nd5, similarly to Alekhine's Defence, and 1.e4 c5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.d4 cxd4 4.Nxd4 d5?!

Source: Wikipedia

jrobichess makes chess videos and has a chess blog along with a personal chess site at http://www.jrobichess.com.