Archive for February, 2011

Kindred’s Special: Early School Days–The Good & The Bad

February 16, 2011

Each year that February 14th pops around brings back memories of my early years in scholastic learning. Saint Valentine’s Day was a joy for some and probably misery for others in my class as it was custom for classmates to give cards to their best friends.  The most popular girls and boys would receive a desk full of cards while others would receive few and God Forbid one or two perhaps getting none at all. Actually the teacher often gave each student in her class a card to be sure at least every student would receive a card.

While on the subject of elementary schooling, I remember sadly an episode that involved a new student in class. The teacher read us a story about Black Sambo. As I recall it gave some moral lesson but it was hurtful to this student who was black himself and he resented it.

In the 6th grade I was mortified when my teacher Miss McL …. had me stay in class, head down on my arms, while the others went out to play. This took place for a week with no explanation whatsoever. Finally on Friday she told me why. Apparently our student teacher had been to a movie with a young lady friend on a date. Miss McL … had instructed that a difficult test was scheduled for Monday and all students should spend time studying for it over the weekend. I was accused of dating a young lady and she told me in no uncertain terms that I was much too young to date. I denied it and she said I was seen. No matter that I got a good mark on the test. No matter that the student teacher was smirking with glee. Which brings me to the scene of the movie.

My brothers had taken me to see Black Beauty and as we left the parking lot and was purchasing tickets at the entrance, a car pulled up and this cute little girl got out and stood behind me. Maybe she was scared or whatever but followed us into the theater and sat down next to me as it was the last seat off the isle. During the movie she started to cry and her sniffles prompted me to lend her my handkerchief. I told her she could keep it when she wanted to return it to me.  For several minutes there was giggling behind us somewhere close. Anyway, my brother asked me to go out and buy some candy which I did and the girl followed me and went to the ladies room.  She came out as I was buying the candy and waited for me and we went back to our seats.  A little later I was into the movie and felt this soft hair on my cheek. She had fallen asleep and laid her head on my shoulder. With the movie ending, lights came on and she awoke. We said how great the movie was and it was too bad she went to sleep but I did not want to wake her. We left the theater.  My brothers said they would pick me up at the entrance and left to get the car. Meanwhile her mother stopped at the entrance and picked up her daughter.

The culprit of course was the student teacher. And my own punishment ended with a slap in the face by a girl I was fond of at the time as the story unfolded due to glued-in-ears at the door. But that lasted only a week or so and we were again friends.

Years later we met and Miss McL… (she never married) said she was most disappointed in me that I lied to her and refused to confess the obvious truth. I told her to remember the class where a story was to be repeated by each student in turn and by the time it passed the ears of some 26 students, the story was unrecognizable. “Oh, how you wiggle your way out of things.” We parted never to see each other again. Perhaps she realized the pangs of life she gave me.

I never told my parents until years later about this incident because I really found Miss McL … a wonderful teacher. My mom said she would have definitely gone to school about it had she known so it was a good thing I did not.

Kindred’s Special: An Indecisive Reaction

February 14, 2011

A strange title for this article but….

I buy chess books for various reasons. I look at a book on chess for entertainment above all else. Then, too, I buy chess books for historical content. Browsing through Barnes & Noble, I discovered an interesting book on the French Defense.  French Defence 3 Nd2 compiled and authored by Lev Psakhis. Actually it is supposedly one of three books covering the French variations. Why did I buy it?  That is a good question. But I never do anything without a purpose and the purpose of buying this book was to hopefully find time to study it and use it in my correspondence game play mostly and perhaps an occasional club game. The problem is I have always played my openings with an opening plan from move 1 and I had little indepth knowledge of openings unlike my brother Ray who utilized such books in his correspondence games. Not that I am lazy. I just find it hard to enter a postal tournament and then rely upon the huge expanse of suggested lines that follow master examples of chess skill called variations.  I contemplated entering an advertised US Correspondence Championship in CCLA’s magazine or joining a chess team league which I had previously found most enjoyable. In fact when I was active, I was captain of both New York State Beavers teams which had over 30 members.  Unfortunately illness and work interrupted my activities that I felt obliged as captain to recruit and make or accept challenges with other teams either state side of internationally. Hence, I had to step down and the team name that was disputed by some team members preferring to change the New York team name found a burial for the Beavers namesake once I was gone.

There in lies the rub. I was quite busy at other projects when I bought the French book. And the nagging question confronted me with the ill logic you might say here, “so what?” The question for me was whether I follow my brother’s game plan of utilizing opening books delving deeply into hundreds of tested variations and completely change my own game plan. You see, I have always felt why play chess if you simply scan the pages and analysis of previous play? Where is the fun and enjoyment in that? But it goes deeper than that. It is my belief that it limits and hinders the aspiring player for original concepts.  If you do not know a line you analyze and adopt is already in play, then the feeling that one is treading the waters in original terrain ripens the stimulus of joy in combat. In a sense I can put it in a few words all the above: Ignorance is bliss.

The truth hurts. Years ago, when there were few opening books other than the MCO series by Korn; it was relatively easy to arm oneself for either postal or over-the-board play. Not so with the explosion of modern print technology and game collections via computer compiled tournament results and games contested.  My interest in chess started with the former times and my joy of chess always rested in the realm of trying to find novel ideas to explore. It was easy to analyze and discover new twists in published variations, sometimes MCO typos would make an appearance.  I once won a game when my opponent was following a line I had discovered contained such a flaw and he merely used the variation given without checking it first. I won a few moves later! “How Not to Play Chess!!” he wrote on his card of resignation.

I guess it boils down that if I want to play otb tournament chess or postal it will require my changing my philosophy about my own history of chess joy and adopt at least some deep analysis into published game play.  Thus, the book mentioned that sat on my library shelf since the early 2003-4 year that was purchased for one motivation but now, with my blog, can feature some tantalizing examples of French games and introduce you, my readers, with the author Lev Psakhis.

That of course is for a future series and book review.