Tuesday, April 25, 2017 14:21

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February 11th, 2016

Open Letter to Yahoo!

November 25th, 2013

My apologies for making a non-chess post in my rarely-updated chess blog… I really have chess stuff to blog about, if only I had the time.

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Dear Yahoo! (and Marissa Meyer):

PLEASE stop screwing around with offering me updated functionality I’ve never asked for, without giving me a way to keep my classic functionality. One reason I’ve stayed with Yahoo! for all these years, and paid you over fifteen bucks a month for years on end, is because your user experience is constant.

Using Y!Mail on my Netbook is now a painful experience thanks to all the crap you’ve loaded down Yahoo mail with. Your iPhone YMail app includes lots of counter-intuitive behavior. On both platforms I can’t quickly find a way to filter down to my unread mail and deal with it efficiently.

I cannot stand how you’ve screwed with my My Yahoo page, and won’t be using it anymore. Ditto for Yahoo sports.

And you recently decided to not renew keys for Akimset spam filtering on the three WordPress blogs that I run (the biggest element of what I still pay for webhosting with you for.)

Yahoo Board, I call on you to closely scrutinize your new CEO’s actions and approvals in these matters. I am on the very raw edge of quitting Yahoo in favor of other services which have already modernized – if you’re going to force change on me, I might as well take my business someplace that has already worked the bugs out of their systems. I sincerely doubt I’m the only one considering going to considerable effort to break whatever lock-in you thing you’ve gotten off of me.

The young and hip “Let’s update everything to imitate the market leaders” isn’t market leadership, and it will lead you straight into obscurity. As it does for many who imitate the best instead of innovating to be the best.

And, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, get off my lawn, too.

Sincerely,

Darren Erickson

U.S. Championships 2011 – St. Louis

April 23rd, 2011

A half dozen of us from the club are here in St. Louis today to watch the Semifinal Round 1 of the U.S. Championships. Garrett Scott, Joe Alford, Chris Morgan, Dennis Bourgerie, Michael Boyle, and I are all present. I will be blogging live / adding photos as I can today.

After arriving and looking around for awhile, we went for lunch at Pi, a pretty famous pizza placd here in town. Great pizza, but it caused us to be a couple of minutes late coming back in; as such I missed the chance to take board photos. (Oh, well!)

3:06 – been looking at the Shankland-Kamsky game. It’s different to be here, as opposed to watching it on video. Some of it is being in the audience and watching the audience reactions to things. There are GMs in the audience today as well.

After looking at the boards for a few minutes, I came back down to the analysis room. (Where I am right now at 2:15.) The plyaers have already advanced their openings (8 or so moves for each player.) Hess-Shulman is the match to be watching IMVHO, though the Krush-Zatonskih match is also compelling.

4:35 – Warm in the commentary room… Michael Boyle and I played two games outside upstairs and then came back to the commentary room. Been watching Irina Krush implode, also. (Implode in the minds of the commentators, a patzer like me can follow along with the analysis but not come up with it. A common problem for us patzers – how do we bridge the knowledge gap? And then, when a couple of moves later Krush hasn’t actually imploded after all, even if Zatonskih is better off.)

5:02 – The sort of thing you never get a chance to see if you’re not here in person, seeing GM’s Seirawan and Hammer discussing the games.

GMs in the room include Ben Finegold, Jan (Jann??) Hammer, and Yasser Seirawan. (And of course Maurice Ashley and Jennifer Shahade doing our commentary.)

Normal Open Chess

April 17th, 2011

(The all-too-cliche joke in Bloomington/Normal would be, “As opposed to Abnormal Open Chess?”)

Yesterday it was up to Northbridge Baptist church to play in a 4 round G/70. In deference to the joke, though, the turnout was abnormally light. Aside from one person from Hudson, nobody from out of town came despite lots of promotion.

Jeff showed why he’s a Senior TD, though, in rolling with the punch: The players collectively decided we’d forego the prizes in order to just play some rated chess. (And much thanks to Bill Barton and the folks at Northbridge in allowing the use of their facilities.)

Before the day was done, eleven of us had played seventeen games in total. (Several players either left early, arrived late, and one house player – the director – had one game.) But it was still a fun day, and much thanks to Jeff for setting it up!

I only had one win for four games. I felt pretty good about my level of play in all of them, though. In all four games I reached an endgame (though in the first game I flubbed in the early middlegame and played a silly desperation move in attempting to pull a draw out when I saw a loss coming,) and in all my losses I made my 1300s-1700s opponents work very hard to get their points.

Instead of thinking it is time to resume my correspondence play, I’m going to delay that until I get some good analysis time on all four games. Which is another reason to appreciate the games – there are good learning moments in all of them.

So, it has been a good weekend for enjoying my chess. I hope that you can also

Enjoy your chess!

Decompression starting….

March 10th, 2011

Here is the theme for this post… you can play it as you’re reading and it will be clear before the post is over.

 

So now the scholastic season is over and done, the club championship is over and all we have left are the trophy presentations for it, and I’m taking a little and tiny breather. A good time for taking stock…

The last six months were very busy. By month:

  • September into October was taking and passing the Local TD exam, with a trip up to DeKalb.
  • Late October was when this blog ate itself and had to be reborn/respawned.  (Some of the older posts are still missing pictures…)  That took me into mid-November.
  • Early December it was the Turgut simul, my first experiences as Chief TD of an over-30 player event, the start of the scholastic season / first experience running a computer room (only two of us, but still!), an aborted attempt to drive to a tournament in a blizzard,  and most of the rest of December was taken with organizing my first tournment as Chief TD of a large local scholastic tournament.  Plus there was that little thing called Christmas.
  • January had going up to DeKalb again with other club members to make up for the last trip which was aborted by blizzard, the actual play of my first Class C TDing experience as Chief TD (I think…), the completion of my last correspondence game which I don’t think I had time to blog about, heading down the Decatur for the Gerald Anderson memorial, the annual Martin Luther King scholastic tournament, the beginning of the club championship, and a few days off to attend the wedding of my nephew in Florida, and a hasty retreat back up to Illinois to get home before the second major blizzard of this winter.
  • February continued directing the club championship and scholastic directing at Colene Hoose (floor,) Benjamin (computer,) Oakland (sole computerman for a school doing its first scholastic – also first time doing 100+ players in four sections on computer by myself,) and Prairieland (computer,) and finally the last round of the Club Championship.
  • In March I had the opportunity to work computers at my first seriously major tournament (one section of 160 or so players in a single section, tournament attendance was right around 520,) and also run computers for the Blitz event Friday night of that.  Then back to the G/20 action.
  • Although I’ve mentioned some of the torunaments I’ve played in, the count is around 23 rated games and I don’t know how many unrated games, including a DRR in the computer room at Prairieland.
  • And now it is now, and I’m soaking my troubles away in the tub…  And, just coming on my player is, “Endgame,” from the original CD of the musical Chess, where a deep chorus sings the names of the World Champions through Kasparov in a most reverent tone followed by a motif with the world champions chanted….  “……  Might never be a World Champion, but one cannot say I lack of devotion to the game.

But now, these things are done and gone except for the memories and the learnings. A little rest is in order.

And then I’m thinking it’s time to get out of the tub and figuring out how I’m getting up to DeKalb this Sunday for another tournament, pick up the threads of a Decatur/Springfield/Peoria/Bloomington league play season, playing in a tournament here in mid-April, organizing another scholastic for late April, and maybe picking up with correspondence chess again. Unless one ends it, it is never time to stop being able to

Enjoy your Chess!

It’s been awhile…

March 2nd, 2011

…Not that things haven’t been happening, rather that too much has been happening for me to keep up on the blogging. Scholastic season is almost done, the club chess championship ended Monday night (won’t even discuss my performance… but you can check out those results and more http://tccc.laughingvulcan.org/ ), and I’m darn near exhausted.

A little rest in the next couple of weeks and I’ll be back to my bouncing-off-the-walls stuff.

In the meantime, I invite you to check out the following from xkcd. It’s a webcomic that does not focus specifically on chess (though this is the second chess-themed comic I’ve seen from them, and it’s one of my personal favorite comics, bar-none.) Until next time, Enjoy your Chess!

Good stuff from XKCD!

2nd Annual Gerald Anderson Memorial, Decatur

January 14th, 2011

Updated:  Saturday night 11 PM. (Post tournament and end of live.)

Pre-Tournament:

All week long I’ve dithered…  I’m somewhat tired; I’ve went from directing to tournament to playing while directing to Chief TD directing to drawing the last of four correspondence games (and having no time to blog about it) and will be directing on Monday as well as directing and playing in the club championship which begins Monday night.

But I’ve also gotten an early birthday present in a new wood set that is gorgeous for the money.

So  now, at Friday night, decision time is here.  The chess bug has bit.   And I have decided to play in Decatur tomorrow morning in about as long a time control as I ever play (G/75, four rounds at 9, Noon, Three, Six.)  I’m actually glad to have made the decision and not live with the regret of not having gotten down there.

I am in the process of packing up.  I didn’t ask if the venue has WiFi or not, but I’m assuming it does and I’m gearing up for Live Tourney Blogging tomorrow.  Probably no updates until tomorrow at venue (if we have time before Round 1.  If not, after Round 1 if there is WiFi.)

Update:  There is WiFi here.  We have arrived.  Ray, Rob Nunez (who arrived separately) and I are here.  The facility is nice, with a playing area and a skittles area.  We are waiting for first round pairings (expected momentarily.)  Wish me luck!

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Round 1:

My first round is over. I had a fairly equal game until I sacrificed by a pawn to try and launch an attack that was refuted fairly easy, then found it impossible to prevent promotion.

I have about an hour until the next round starts. Lunch is a thought…. I’ll have to touch base with Ray and see. Ray just finished his game with Adam Ford, whom I lost to in last year’s Bradley Open. Why do I have the feeling that Ray and I might be playing each other before the day is out? ;)


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Round 2:

Round 2, the game lasted longer but I was playing defense ball for almost all of the game. A Queen’s Gambit declined opening combined with an early (foolish?) Bishop advance led to the loss of that good dark-square Bishop. After that it was pure reaction, but I did take it into an endgame. Just a losing one! ;) :D

Round 3 will start at three PM in about twenty minutes. Just enough time to get composure and be nicely ready. (I am also confirming that G/75 is a bit long for me… I am coming nowhere close to needing all the time I have. Which also means that I could be taking more time to make the moves that I have.


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Round 3:
Remember that little bit in the Round 1 entry when I wrote that maybe Ray and I will end up playing each other?????

Ray and I will analyze a little bit… If I have a chance after Round 4 I’ll blog it, but if we head for home I’ll do it there. Been a good day so far (at least I’m enjoying myself.) Now if I asked Ray… ???? ;) ;) :D :P
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Round 4:

We’ll have to see how it stands up under post-analysis, but I feel like I played the best game of my life so far. A very slow opening in completely unfamiliar opening territory allowed me to build up a cramped position, but allowed me to develop fully without contact with White.

The critical moment came at my move 17, when I calculated: White’s pawn storm on the Kingside would be too slow, that I should not take White’s h-pawn when he offered it and instead allow the trade to occur on the g-file, and that I had the extra tempo to double my Rooks and take out the White’s b-pawn thus cracking open the Queenside. Then I figured out that for move 22 I could take my Queen to h4 (threatening Mate in 1,) and that I would be a minimum of Rook up, and I felt sure that following the trade-downs my c-pawn would promote.

This was one of the most challenging games I think I’ve played, and was grateful for the win. (It would have been one of those games that would have been interesting to me even if I had lost.)


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Post Tournament:

This was a tournament of firsts for me.

It was the first time I’ve played in Decatur. The presentation about Mr. Anderson before the second round, coupled with the memorabilia of his life they had, makes me hope that I will someday be held in such esteem by my family and fellow club members. (May that day be far away!)

The last two rounds put me at a total score of 2.0 for 4.0. It was enough to tie me for first place in the Class-E to Unrated section. So it’s the first time I’ve walked away from a tournament with a prize. Two bought meals and a little gas sharing (very little!) means the whole day cost me $9.00 out of pocket. Not bad for a twelve hour day of chess and fifteen hours away from the house.

It was also the first time I’ve played with my advance birthday present, a four inch House of Staunton Royale series wood pieces. (It’s also the first time I’ve played on the mousepad board that Ron Suarez gave me.) I hope to have a photo of Ray and I playing from Jeremy fairly soon.

OK…. Time to put this one into the bag (until I get time, someday, to do personal games analysis again.)

Thank you Decatur Chess Club for an excellent tournament!

Blogging Live from DeKalb

January 2nd, 2011

Updated: 9:27 PM (Final Post on Live)

Our last little adventure trying to get to DeKalb was interrupted by a blizzard.

This morning, though, it’s supposed to be sunny and roads clear for the first tournament in Illinois of 2011.  My tournament kit is ready and I’ve got just a few things left before we leave for DeKalb.  I’ll be blogging live in this post as I have time throughout the day.

Time to put the laptop away in the kit and get ready and go!

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Pre-tournament:

We have all arrived on time and fine.  Roads were beautiful – wished I’d gotten some contrast pictures with the blizzard.

Hanson Hao is also playing here today.  So we have five of us, all in the lower section.

IMG_0459_s2

The Crew, Ready to Rock!

Checked in (and Ray pointed out that if we paid the $5 annual membeship for DeKalb chess, then we get a discount on the EF plus discounts from now on.  So now we’re committed for a return at some point.)  ;)  Coffee, restroom and conversation later and it’s time to rock!

No time for photos yet; pairings about to happen.  Wish us luck!

Round 1:

Round 1 was a loss for me – I ended up dropping a Rook in a Ruy Lopez.  I know that I’ve used exactly the same trap before.  :(  But hope for Round 2.

The rest of our crew did about as expected.  Michael and I lost, Hanson won, and Niranjan drew.  Ray got a bye for the round.

Pairings coming up imminently – must move quick!

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Round 2:

Round 2 and I had another loss, but in this one we reached an endgame… from a Petroff, which isn’t my strongest opening.  One little pawn promoting made the difference.  This was one of those “fun-to-lose” ones, with enough equality in the game to make it very interesting.

About twenty minutes left on the clocks.  Ray also lost.  Hanson and Niranjan both scored wins… Talk about your hope for the future being in the children!!! :)

Mike got the bye, and we’re heading down to Round 3.  I’m thinking about lunch, or a combined lunch/dinner after next round.  I’d love to show some of the photos, but I’m not sure if I have time.  After coffee and bathroom we’ll see.  If I miss a third round post it’s because I had to get to the board.

Round 2, Now What Mess Have I Gotten Myself Into???  ;)

Round 2, Now What Mess Have I Gotten Myself Into??? ;)

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Round 3:

Round 3 and I finally got on the board!  It was a fairly fast miniature against a player rated in the 400s.  But even then, my opponent and I did postgame analysis which reveals on early study that if White had played 14. Qe2 we would have had a whole different ballgame, with me down a Knight and playing defensive ball.

All the other games are still playing at the moment.

Time for lunch/dinner!  Then photos if I get the chance – if not, then results after Round 4.

My One Victory of the Day.  Thanks, John!

My One Victory of the Day. Thanks, John!

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Round 4:

In Round 4 I faced an opponent that I had previously met during my last tournament in DeKalb.  I had won in our previous encounter with White leading my Giuoco Pianissimo.  This time I was not as fortunate.  An ill-conceived attack had me trade Queen for a Rook, and we worked it into a Queen versus Rook endgame that my opponent handled most excellently.  It will be interesting to analyze to see what better move I might have had rather than setting up what led to the trade-off.

The Crew Considers Just How LaughingVulcan Could Have Gone So Wrong!!!  :D

The Crew Considers Just How LaughingVulcan Could Have Gone So Wrong!!! :D

I feel fairly well about how I handled the endgame, though my opponent certainly knew what he was doing with it and proved the superior advantage of Queen over Rook.  ;)

(Surprisingly to me, mine was the final game of the five of us from Bloomington, so I didn’t have time to post this from up there.)

Post-Tournament

I know that Hanson Hao scored 3.0/4 and Niranjan scored 2.5/4, making them the best of our pack.  I think Ray finished with 1.5/4 including a bye, I finished at 1.0/4, and Michael might have finished at 2.0/4 with including a bye.  But I’ll have to confirm that from the ratings.

All in all, I’m moderately pleased with my performance.  In two of my games against higher rated opponents I worked it down into an endgame.  This proves to me that I need both work on recognizing target opportunities (to start focusing myself into endgames where I am on the winning side,) and also work on my endgames themselves.

Overall, I believe that we all had a good time and it was good to get tournament play with a different group of people.  Much thanks to Bill and the DeKalb Chess Club for hosting the tournament (and also his work in pairings to mostly avoid pairing us Bloomington folks together!)  We’ll definitely be back up that way again!

More photos will be available at the Twin Cities Chess Club site as soon as I get the opportunity to process and post them – probably later this week.

So the new year is upon us…

December 29th, 2010

…and I have it on good authority that Chess will continue to be played in 2011.  :)

Correspondence update:  From my last update on November 11th.  I was right about the third game.  It ended with a loss, making me 1-2 with one game remaining.  (That one was a forfeit loss because of time, and by the IECC rules a time loss means all games in that event are forfeited.  This is offset by the IECC TDs being more than willing to reset the clocks to zero on an opponent’s apology for stepping over; I like the concept that the clock exists to keep the game moving along and not as a guillotine above the head.)

Anyway, one game left.  As I’ve given my opponent this blog address. I won’t comment on how it’s going….  I’m enjoying the game immensely though, and I think we’re winding it down (if not already past the penultimate moment, it’s very close.)

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So, it’s almost the end of the year.  A good time for celebration, reflection, and goal setting for the next year.

Some of the things I have to celebrate:

  • While my first rated game came in December of 2009, it was close enough to say that I really began serious tournament play this year.
  • I played in 21 events in 2010.  (Really taking to heart the rulebook’s suggestion that Tournament Directors should continue to play in tournaments for perspective!)
  • While the vast majority of those were at my home club, I traveled to:  Bloomington once (an open not TCCC sponsored,) Peoria twice (GPCF Winter Tornado and Bradley Open,) LaSalle/Peru once, and DeKalb once.
  • Served as a TD in 16 events.  There was a good mix of scholastic and club events.  I feel very comfortable now as a floor director or computer operator, or sole TD of an event.  (Very different from my first event as a certified TD in February of 2009!)
  • Passed my Local TD exam, a goal of mine made in 2009.
  • I had a win against a player in the 1100 rating range, and I have a very solid win record against other players in my current rating range.  (Which makes me think I’m a little underrated… but who doesn’t feel like that? ;) )  Many of my other games in the sub-1500 range have been pretty close.
  • I’m feeling much better about my middlegames, and I can see where I’ve strengthened as a player in the last year.  My skill at defense has also continued to improve.
  • I’ve developed the webpages for our club, and it’s now at a point of adding content and maintaining as opposed to developing.

That’s a lot to celebrate!!!!!

So, for the year to come….  I’m not really ready to set solid goals yet – still the silly season, isn’t it?  :)  But here are some ideas I am toying with:

  • Develop my endgame play.
  • Take advantage of an offer to receive lessons.
  • My last 12 months of rated play show a 29.7% win rate.  I’d like to improve that to at least 33%.
  • In the next year, I’m playing at DeKalb in January.  I’d like to play in next year’s Bradley Open.  Of the following four places, I’d like to play in at least two of them and as many as possible:  Chicago (preferably North Shore Chess Center,) Freeport, Springfield, Decatur, St. Louis Chess Center.
  • I’d like to attend a day of the U.S. Championship again in 2011.  If there is an open blitz event as well, as last year, this could provide the St. Louis playing opportunity.  Possibly meet the other club members on one day, stay overnight, watch the second day and play in the blitz event.
  • Work towards getting the directing requirements to become a Senior TD.

Hmm… for not setting goals, I have quite a few to choose from!  It’s pretty clear that in 2011 I’ll be enjoying my chess.  I hope that in the new year, you too will

Enjoy Your Chess!

The Return of the King!

December 23rd, 2010
No, not this Return of the King!

No, not this Return of the King!

A little less than a month ago, I blogged about how excellent I felt that I had finally managed to draw a scholastic player that I’ve habitually lost to

Well, Vanity, thy name is LaughingVulcan!

Monday was our usual club night, and we had ten people turn out to play Round 2 of the monthly G/60 tournament.  I found myself paired against Nathaniel.  But this time it was rated, rather than unrated.  An epic clash of the Titans!

No, not THAT Clash of the Titans.  (Bet you thought I'd go for the 2010 version, huh?)

No, not THAT Clash of the Titans. (Bet you thought I'd go for the 2010 version, huh?)

(Actually, I haven’t seen the 2010 version of Clash of the Titans yet.  On my Netflix list, just keeps getting pushed down…  Anyway, back to the point – if I have one…)

I lead out the Giuoco Pianissimo again – for a second I thought about using the Bishop’s Opening (e4 e5 Bc4,) thinking I could transition that over to an Italian – another member in the club has been leading that opening recently.  But… in the end, I decided to keep to something I think I know better.

Instead of lightning striking twice, Nathaniel played his usual excellent game, and I ended up binding myself.  As I was trying to command the d-file, plus either get the Queens off the board or getting a tactical shot in, Nathaniel got my a-pawn with his Bishop, and could then retreat the Bishop with a discovery on my Rook that had to be responded to.  I’m not sure that trading Rooks was the right thing to do following that…  But I also haven’t really done any analysis on the game at all, yet.  That will come in the next few days, I hope.

But I would do a disservice if I didn’t say how much I enjoyed playing this game – it was one of the losses that I can relish.  (And, for that matter, I recognize how excellent Nathaniel is as an opponent – both in play and how he plays a game in his demeanor.  A truly fine opponent to face.)   For this round, it was indeed the return of the King (at least by our record against each other.)

Anyway, here’s the game:

BTW, advice for other lower-rated players… Don’t let a single loss get you down.  It’s the long haul that counts.  The joy can lie in finding opponents that give you challenging games – win or lose.  And, I am hoping that eventually I’ll get my Revenge.

This one I can live with - not that I have all that much of a Dark Side...  ;)

This one I can live with - not that I have all that much of a Dark Side... ;)

But until I get the chance to see if I can get my Revenge (or just another good game,) I hope that you also can

Enjoy your Chess!