Archive for November, 2009

Kindred’s Kaleidoscope: REVIEW OF NEW IN CHESS 25TH ANNIVERSARY

November 18, 2009

By far the best chess magazine in print today is NEW IN CHESS. The latest issue celebrates the 25th anniversary with extra gift to readers with additional 40 extra pages.  This expansion is not wasted! The whole issue is packed with just about everything a chess enthusiast regardless of rating or interest will benefit. On the cover is featured the handsome youngster Magnus Carlsen who many feel will one-day be World Champion. Currently he is being coached and trained (if that is possible) by none-other-than former World Champion Garry Kasparov, many who hail him as the greatest tactician ever to play the game. You certainly will benefit from the interviews with these two and their comments on each other. As Magnus Carlsen notes, “I am very grateful for Kasparov’s help, but I am making the moves.”

Some of the headings of columns between the covers of the magazine lists the following:

  • Kramnik tops ‘Champions’ League’ in Zurich;
  • Andy Soltis on Bobby Fischer’s Openings;
  • Svidler’s Amsterdam Experience;
  • Jusst Checking: Veselin Topalov;
  • And tons more to wet your chess appetite!

I found every article of great interest. One I enjoyed expecially was Anand’s TRIPLE-A WEBSITES ACCORDING TO ANAND. And if you are a real history buff like me, you will really enjoy Genna Sosonko’s article titled: Mikhail Botvinnik, Homo Politicus. If you are a Gambiteer, you will find Jeroen Bosch’s DUTCH: PREPARING THE STAUNTON GAMBIT most fruitful. To find a bit of English humor, turn to page 112 to read OF OLD DOGS AND AN ENGLISHMAN. 44-year old GM Nigel Short who loves to deride himself as a has-been, an over-the-hill veteran, an old dog, excited his British following with an amazing 8-2 series in the Staunton Memorial in London.

For book collectors, there is the brilliant work by Genna Sosonko titled RUSSIAN SILHOUETTES, a new enlarged edition. Another achievement in the halls of McFarland are three new products:

  1. BLINDFOLD CHESS– It’s History, Psycology, Techniques, Champions, World Records, and Important Games from the research of Eliot Hearst and John knott. Noteworthy is the excellence of library binding (7×10), 444 games, photographs, diagrams, appenndices, bibliography, indexes. Price $65.
  2. ADOLF ALBIN IN AMERICA–A European Chess Master’s Sojourn, 1893-1895 by Olimpiu G. Urcan. $49.95 library binding (7×10) featuring 130 games, photographs, diagrams, tables, appenddices, notes, bibliography, indexes.
  3. ISAAC KASHDAN, AMERICAN CHESS GRANDMASTER–A Career Summary with 757 Games.  Peter P. Lahde has put together a long overdue coverage of one of our chess stars from the past. $65. kubrart bubdubg (7×10) 11 photographs, facsimiles, diagrams, tables, appendices, bibliography, indexes, high quality paper which is always McFarland. I am particuliarly happy that this book has emerged as I wrote a column for GM Kashdan in the pages of The Chess Correspondent while he was the editor. If I remember reading correctly, he was thought to be the American Capablanca, especially for his endgame skill. (But don’t quote me!).

These books are available directly from McFarland or from a host of chess outlets, most likely USCF, Barnes&Noble or Amazon.

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Lets play question and answer. The final page in New In Chess is always devoted to asking questions of famous GMs or IMs. But what would we amateurs reply to such questions? Here, I give you, the reader, opportunity to respond. Your replies  will be printed in Kindred’s Kaleidoscope.

  1. What is your favorite color?
  2. What is your favorite drink?
  3. Who is your favorite author?
  4. What is the most interesting book you have read?
  5. What movie is your favorite?
  6. Who is your favorite actor? (Male and Female)
  7. What music turns you on?
  8. What is your favorite tournament to play in?
  9. What is your best result?
  10. Who is your favorite chess star of all-time?
  11. What chessbook had the most influence on you?
  12. What do you like or dislike most?
  13. What two favorite people would you like to invite to share a meal with?
  14. What is your greatest fear?
  15. What would you save most from a house fire?
  16. If you could change things in the chessworld, what would it be?
  17. Is a knowledge of chess helpful in your life?
  18. What is the best thing ever said about chess you experienced?

Looking forward to hearing from you! Thanks!!

Adios for now!!

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Kindred’s Kaleidoscope: NEW IN CHESS 25TH ANNIVERSARY ISSUE

November 14, 2009

IN MY RETIREMENT YEARS WHAT JOY WOULD I FIND IN CHESS? I must admit I pondered this more than once. As I saw it, I could devote my time to correspondence play and or try to find enjoyment in playing away from home and entering some of the regional and national tournaments that adorned the CHESS LIFE pages in advertisements of upcoming events. Being married and having “the farm” which became a landscape joy for cultivating an interest for gardening and swimming in the nearly 2-acre pond-lake that housed an abundance of fish and attracted a host of wildlife from deer to birds of various kinds, I found myself along with my wife a widening interest beyond chess play.

It would have been fun to travel, to play in chess competitions just for the experience to see how far I could go in improving my rating. Most of my chess interest had been devoted to our local club as an officer and also a USCF Region II Director and tournament director.

During my working life I devoted my interest mostly to correspondence play with the CCLA and participated in numerous local and regional events in western New York State, often both as a director and participant but mostly as serving as program director for club activities.

Good or bad I had a thirst for a wide-ranging interest to investigate numerous things that interested me in and out of chess. In this series, for example, I noted my development of my square-count theory for mapping games graphically the ups and downs of the battle as well as applying it to actual thought process in my games. I have always advocated planning a game strategy from move one because from my viewpoint it was the best way to improve. Keeping the game play within your skill level development and understanding of strategy and tactics was and is essential for an amateur wanting to improve his rating record. In addition, I think it is the best way to foster a love for chess throughout your life if you so choose.

To me few people have the drive to achieve greatness in chess. It is a hard, difficult road to achieve stardom in chess and then maintain it at a top peak over time. History is full of also rans who devoted their entire existance to follow the pushing of pawns only to struggle in poverty and disillusionment. That is the crux of the difference between chess and other sport activity.

USCF advertised in CHESS LIFE that chess makes you smart. Maybe so. Maybe not. Certainly a child who studies and plays chess with some seriousness to improve will experience early in life such attributes as time management, development of critical thinking in terms of honing a decision making process, of judgment, of planning, and certainly the valuable nature of competitiveness not to mention developing relationships with others having similar interests.

I read in NEW IN CHESS–THE 25TH ANNIVERSARY BUMPER ISSUE a comment by GM Topalov to a question asked: Is a knowledge of chess useful in everyday life?  His answer was, “Very little.” In fact, most of the questions asked were answered in a narrow self-grandizement and perhaps a bit of humor to pull the nose of the reporter.

Herein, lies the difference between myself and perhaps most others who might answer that question in a similar fashion. I relate my views on this above. I do not claim to know the answer other than to say that each and every child or adult who takes a liking to the game of chess form their own evaluation which likely will be the right one in your own case.

Adios for now!!

Kindred’s Special: Islamic Extremism

November 6, 2009

THE NEWS ON FOX CABLE TV I just happened to witness as it began airing the events at Fort Hood on November 5th and of course the following day my newspaper Democrat and Chronicle had glaring headlines: “Soldier kills 12 at Fort Hood” with even more glaring headline reading “TROUBLING SIGNS IGNORED.”

Personally I never heard the name Nidal Malik Hasan before but he had a blog on the internet and was a devout Muslim holding the rank of Major in the US Army as a psychitrist. Apparently he wanted to be excused from a tour pending to Afghanistan as he was against the wars taking place in the Middle East and those who shared his Islamic faith. His failed attempt to find a favorable resolution inflamed his emotion to a state of insanity and led to the horrific event on November 5th. Such a tragedy that could have been avoided.

Major Hasan is a mental case; he is a murderer. Still, most likely we shall find exhibited in the press and liberal news that it was the Army that indirectly caused this tragedy to occur. But is it?

The thought occurred to me that no other religion seems bent on killing indiscriminately like the followers of Islam. No other religion goes so far as to threaten the life of anyone who speaks ill of the Koran where some of it’s text encourages “death to infidels.” But it is deeper than that. When innocent folks go out to vote are threatened with having their fingers cut off, when children are threatened with death by family members for choosing to disobey Islamic life or join another faith, when women are persecuted, enslaved and forced to subject themselves to their husbands wills, when suicide bombers are promised many virgins when they go to Heaven, when decent law abiding muslims fail to speak out and condemn such barbaric and ancient customs, then the whole of the Islamic tradition and faith are put under a magnifying glass and examined for it’s value system and it’s purverse belief.

The Islamic religion is strong and widely followed throughout the world body. Devout muslims practice their faith with deep feeling and gratitude in following Allah. But just as many seem to have no qualms concerning murder because of false excuses that they are living up to their religious upbringing. This does not wash. This should not wash in true Islam. It seems like the Islamic Faith has been hijacked by radical nuts and has the quiet neutrality of those who abhor such slaughter of innocents across the world in the guise of suicide bombers–many viewed as having halo rings over their heads–by rational followers. None of this speaks well of the Faith at large.

As a chessplayer, I view the picture that is painted by society and it smells largely at times like BO.  Societies can be good, bad, indifferent or just plain bad. Often times it is just a mix of all of them together where elements tend to muddy the waters of it as a whole.

Historically speaking, all religions possess flaws due mostly in part to the membership body. In general I would hope that each and every one would make the effort to grow in their own faith and practice those qualities that make and keep their religious beliefs true and strong. None have a monopoly on the right path except Jesus who the Bible quotes: No one comes to the Father but by me. Whether you hold this belief as true or not does not give anyone the right to criticize others’ beliefs nor give those who call it balony the often seen chastisement towards Christians.

I am reminded of the story about the Atheist who panned and panned religion as a whole. When he died, few cared or attended the wake. When his tombstone was selected by the family, the stone cutter was told to write on the tombstone this phrase: HERE LIES A TRUE ATHEIST, ALL DRESSED UP WITH NO PLACE TO GO BUT DOWN IN THE GROUND.

Truth?  Fiction? It was the atheist’s belief that the grave ended it all.

Now, a fellow friend of his was an Agnostic. He was a fence sitter and felt he should indeed be a believer just in case. He died and was buried. His spirit soared to the Heavens where he came to the Pearlie Gate and found St. Peter with his book open. “I’ve lived a good Christian life and look forward to Heavenly Peace and Joy.” St. Peter gave him a stern look and pointed his finger at a blank page and replied, “Your name is not in the Book of Life.”

For each of us, life can either be a bowl of cherries or otherwise–the pits. We go to bed at night, rise in the morning, enjoy family, go to work, come home, enjoy the day’s events, some fun time, and then it is off to bed again to be repeated. The values we get from life are finding relationships with others in various formats. If life is so strifle, who made it so? If a glass is half full, do you consider it half full or half empty.

We are living in very dangerous times with a lackluster leadership in Congress and the Presidency that spells peril to our National interests and world position of influence. Some of the appointments made seem more like a lunatic run rampant rather than good statesmanship. As an earlier column I wrote says: BO smells. Corruption Chicago-style seems what the American youth voted for but did they expect this form of change? I leave you with this thought: Be careful what you wish and vote for because you just may get it: THE PIED PIPER OF AMERICA.

Adios for now!

Kindred’s Kaleidoscope: Corp of Engineers Fiasco

November 2, 2009

Driving to our favorite Charlie Riedel’s Family Restaurant, my wife and I discovered right on time the opening of the lake road swing bridge that is closed during the months of November through March. One might assume that wisdom prevails among the elite of our society as afterall these educated men and women who make up the Corp of Engineers possess more commonsense than the average citizen does, especially regarding the deployment of bridges! Assumptions? That is the crux of the problem facing Americans– the progressiveness that bends the very fabric of commonsense.

As a chessplayer and largely self-taught and being interested in many varied topics down the road of life, it appears to me that suddenly my critical thought pattern began to boil and sometimes it boils over. That is when my wife worries about me because I tend to analyze and put on my commonsense hat, which by the way is a TAM, and thus begins a vocal discussion during driving that is perhaps dangerous. At least I have heard that discussions in cars might be one of the causes of minor accidents on the road let alone those crazy folks who use cell phones and do text messaging or have their lap computers on which they operate during driving. Anyway, not to leave the subject, the thought that the Irondequoit Bay and Lake Ontario are linked by this swing bridge and that it is open during an seven month period covering spring through fall so that sail boats of the rich can traverse to and from the Bay and Lake.

What is wrong with this picture? Well, one problem is that the Lake Road is a vital link for an escape route in case of threats to the city and surrounding counties. But this is not the main problem. The Corp of Engineers opened the Bay for access to and from the Lake. Politically, that smells. Why? Because the original idea was that the opening would somehow add purity to the Bay waterway.  The real reason was to afford the sailboaters a chance to make use of the Bay as well as the Lake for private or sail racing. Never mind that the small business community on the westside now had a major loss of hundreds of customers who had always frequented those businesses, most of which were hotdog stands and Seebreeze Park. Want to enjoy the rides and rollercoaster? Forget it unless you travel the long detour and cross the Bay bridge that links the major routes to the city and major industries. Durand Eastman Park has always been a popular summertime area. Despite numerous attempts through getting thousands of signatures to change the schedule, the Corp of Engineers and the powers that be simply ignore some very interesting possibilities. For example, why I ask is the bridge open already in March-April when the weather is usually still too cold for sailboat travel? A little commonsense approach here is needed. Why not alter the dates say from May 20th through September 30th? Compromise would go a long way in some relief of the turmoil and gut wrenching hatred for the bridge felt by many who primarily have always enjoyed travel on the Lake Road, many going down to Sodus Point and having the added pleasure of visiting various farm fruit and vegetable stands that dotted the Lake Road landscape during the summer and autumn where the foliage is a major attraction as well. It would restore the small business culture and increase interest in the Seebreeze route along Lake Road while fulfilling the Rochester Gas & Electric escape routes plan should any accident at the nuclear power plant require evacuation.

I know for a fact that few watercraft venture out into the Lake or enter from the Lake. This was documented by a concerned citizen who sat for a whole week to record few large crafts coming and going. Does it make sense to deprive thousands of travelers and residents from access to both sides of the bridge by less than a handful of watercraft using the outlet? And does it smack of favoritism for a few at the expense of the many who took time to register their names to lists calling for change?

Personally I think most might agree that May 20th through September 30th would offer some compromise and be beneficial to both homeowners and businesses along with those who love the water. The temperatures prior to May 20th and after October 1st are generally cooler, windy and often rainy.  The foliage is exceptional in October and those who use the Bay likewise can enjoy travel along its route and admire the beauty of the landscape and high hills that border it.

Of course I am only one person who, by the way, did add my name as well as my parents many years ago when this whole scheme first materialized. People thought that a strong showing by the citizens would repel “dumb” but I guess that progessiveness always supercedes the wisdom of good old “commonsense.”

That is my analysis as a chessplayer and game expert.

How say you?