Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ben Franklin 300 and the Morals of Chess

Nicola Twilley of the Ben Franklin Tercentenary ( writes--

I wondered whether you might be able to share information about this
upcoming chess event with your blog readers:

Among all his other firsts, Benjamin Franklin also managed to author the first piece of writing on chess published in the United States. In 1786, readers of The Columbian Magazine were treated to Franklin’s essay, “The Morals of Chess,” which began thus: “The game of Chess is not merely an idle amusement. (...) For life is a kind of chess ...”

In this special lecture, John McCrary, Past President of the United States Chess Federation, and Past President of the US Chess Trust, will explore Franklin’s significance to modern chess and the diplomatic and moral lessons Franklin learned from the game. Mr. McCrary will also speculate on Franklin’s actual chess-playing abilities, and introduce some of his opponents, who included several women chess-players, as well as the sensational “Turk” – a chess-playing machine that took Paris by storm.

The lecture will take place in Benjamin Franklin Hall at the American Philosophical Society, and will be followed by a question and answer session, interactive chess diplomacy, a chance to see Franklin’s own original chess set, and refreshments.

This lecture series is made possible through the generosity of the John Templeton Foundation.

Benjamin Franklin Hall, American Philosophical Society, 427 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19106, United States. 6:00 p.m. Free.
(215) 545-3870 ext. 112.

My pleasure! Check it out if you're in the area.

UPDATE: Seems I left out the date in the original post. The lecture will be September 12.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Checking Out?

Dennis Monokroussos of The Chess Mind considers retirement. Michael Goeller at The Kenilworthian considers going on hiatus.

Having myself taken some time off from blogging before I understand the need to recharge. I just hope both of these guys, two of the best chess bloggers around, don't make it permanent.

Now, here's something interesting, the Anchorage Chess Club site run by my old friend Nimzo. Apparently they have their own server to play online, as well. Nimzo used to constantly call me "Herr Doktor" because of my expressed admiration for Tarrasch, even as he (Nimzo) beat me in yet another blitz game. A strong player and a good organizer of chess for fun in the Anchorage area. Thanks for all the lessons, Nimzo!

Friday, August 18, 2006

Chess as Life?

Try substituting 'chess game' for 'life' in the following 'graph from a meaty post titled Holy Creation, Shabbatman, Time to Rejewvenate over at One Cosmos:

After all, this present moment of your life is the end result of thousands and thousands of little plans, goals, choices, and decisions you have made over the course of your life. Are you able to step back for a moment and realize that this is it, that this moment is the result of your plans coming to fruition? Or are you in reality simply addicted to “planning” as a way to escape the moment?

The New Chess Journalism

The excellent Michael Goeller at The Kenilworthian on The New Chess Journalism:

Reading the posts of bloggers attending this year's U.S. Open Chess Championship has made me reflect a bit on blogging generally, and to observe that quite a few bloggers write only for themselves (as they would in keeping a diary), with little thought that they might attract a wider audience or serve the role of journalists communicating facts and perspectives to readers. As one U.S. Open chess blogger wrote in the comments area of my blog: "Thanks for linking to my blog. I never thought anyone other than friends and family would want to read it...."


Chess players would welcome the most interesting stories from the world of chess, even if they had to be reported by "amateurs." Gens una sumus, after all. But they won't get those stories until chess bloggers start looking beyond their own experiences from time to time. Maybe more chess bloggers should ask themselves not "what do I feel like writing?" but "what stories do I know that are in need of telling?" The "internet's new storytellers" and their readers are going to get bored if too many of us just keep talking about ourselves all the time....

I think I'm going to try out some more journalistic writing in my blog in the coming year. Maybe more profiles of chessplayers, some interviews. We'll see where it leads. I hope others will be inspired to do the same.

Well, consider me inspired, Michael, though I don't think my last post on the Hot August Knights tournament was very journalistic. Two much whiny navel-gazing, I'd say.

Still, I do have greater ambitions here than just describing my own games. I think I need to introduce more players, more games and more color.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Tournament Report

The Hot August Knights weekend tournament of the Reno CC was held Aug. 11-13 and produced plenty of exciting chess and some big upsets. (I don't know why the Reno CC site doesn't open new windows to view the tournament report, game scores etc. but everything is on a link from the main page, including crosstables and 34 games to play through).

The tournament was somewhat of a personal disappointment for me, as I lost in the last round against P. Gafni (1557) when a win would have given me the 'Under-1601' prize and some ratings gain. Instead, I faltered from an excellent position a pawn up and eventually even lost.

This is the continuation of a disturbing trend, which you'll also note if you play over Hong-Pearson from Round 3. Against club secretary and the very generous sponsor of this tournament, Ernie Hong (2051), I played very well for awhile and then could not sustain the level of play required and eventually lost. I just don't have the stamina to play good tournament chess against the higher-rated; the only games I win are against opponents that I'm expected to win against based on rating.

Due to the rest of my life away from the board I can only play for about three hours in the evening at any kind of decent level, so for the near future I'm taking some time off from the 30/90, G/60 circuit. I know some of the other players probably have similar circumstances with job and family that interfere with their best chess--but I've about reached my limit for the time being of fading after a promising beginning. It doesn't help when besides a lack of rest there is also, let us call it, lukewarm family support for my chess career, as well.

Overall it was a very fun tournament with food and a fine spirit of comraderie and competition. I urge you to check out the games at the Game Archive on the menu at the above link.

And thanks very much to Ernie for all of his work, financial support and the Saturday evening pizza!

Friday, August 11, 2006

Hot August Knights

The annual Hot August Knights tournament of the Reno CC starts tonight! I'll have a report on the atmosphere, the results and the Saturday pizza party next week. Promise!