Tuesday, October 24, 2006
The Thrilling Wonder Story: Anguished English, part 2: Silly Metaphors & Analogies
Sunday, October 22, 2006
Saturday, October 21, 2006
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Thursday, October 19, 2006
Don To Earth
Born in 1913!
Monday, October 09, 2006
You can read about it here.
Although I have loved chess for most of my life, I have only played proper tournament chess once. I wrote an email about it on the 6 Aug 2001. This is it.
I once played in a chess tournament, the H E Atkins memorial tournament to be precise, but once was enough for me, a very interesting experience though. The year I played they held it in the ball room of the Grand Hotel, so it was a good setting. To those that have never attended a chess tourament, it can seem very peculiar, you enter a big room and the first thing that hits you is the silence, which is weird because there are a lot of people in there. One usually associates lots of people, with lots of noise, like a darts match or something. Certtainly after being a spectator for a while I came to the conclusion it was like watching paint dry or grass grow, but a different perspective ensued when I actually got to play.
Not having a grade, I played in the duffers section. Or the minors as it was termed. I had my first opponent, a twelve year old lad, I can remember him now, peering up at me. So the pair of us set off, both of us playing real careful, we ended up in a position where he had one half of the board and I had the other, both of us behind solid pawns structures in the middle, the position was locked solid, after what seemed like an eternity of aimless wood pushing, I offered the kid a draw, which he declined. So the aimless pushing wood continued, after a while I started to get a bit annoyed, thinking to myself can't he see it's a draw? Which motivated me to make a rash move with a pawn in the center, the little devil was all over me like a rash, he managed to get a pawn to a position, where he could exchange it for a queen, on his next move, in his excitement, he failed to see I had pinned his pawn against his queen with my queen, so as he queened the pawn, my queen took his queen. He was that mortified he burst into tears, quietly of couse. I subsequently discovered he had been the under twelve champion of somewhere or other, so in a sense I got off lightly. He had a won position but blew it.
On to my next oponent, a middle aged lady, I beat her as well. I played the sicilian, she really made my knights dance but could not wear them out.
The amusing thing about the system of, who plays who, is it forms a ladder where you play the person next to you in score, that if you beat that person, you move up the ladder and to the left, and if you lose you move down the ladder and to the right, the way the seating was arranged was if you won, you got more space to play in, and if you lost, less space to play in, bit of a micrcosm of society really, the more you lost, the more you headed towards the slums. At the top of the ladder you had your own seperate table to play on, wow, out in the leafy suburbs or what!
Then to my third opponent, by this time I had a little bit of confidence,
well after putting a twelve year kid under my belt and an innocent old lady. I was playing a guy about twenty two years old. I started for the first time in my life to play real chess. I was very very focused. I remember looking at my watch at one time and seeing an hour go past, in the seeming blink of an eyelid, how different ones time sense was, from watching, to actually playing. Another thing I remember was calculating to such a depth, it made my brain warm, I knew this because I started to sweat, I've often wondered if being bald is an evolutionary adaptation to the problem caused by the brain overheating due to an excess of use, and the problems getting rid of all that excess heat with all that hair in the way.
I actually achieved some spectators as well, my finest chess moment. I found a very deep combination, that started with me sacrificing a minor piece and about five moves later, winning back two of his minor piece's and it worked a treat, after that, it was a relatively simple operating mopping up, 'till he threw in the towel.
Three straight wins in a row and I had made it to the top table, then I met a chess hustler. Every proper chess player gets a grade, the tournament you play in, is dictated by your grade, I was playing in the under 130 grade because I didn't have a grade. What some players will do is judiciously lose enough club games to keep their grade below 130, so they can enter the minor's and possibly win some prize money.
This guy didn't beat me with chess, he beat me with psychology, what he did was play a very drawish opening, then waste nearly all of the time on his clock, he wandered off for ages and ages, there is nothing in the rules to stop you doing anything you wanted to, as long as it was not either noisy or distracting to the players. I can't remember, the amount of time you where given to the first time control, something like an hour and half for the 30 odd, moves. Well enough time, to go for a meal, do some shopping like, as long as you returned before the flag fell, no problem. He left it to the last couple of minutes, before he started to play, of course by now, I was a bit rattled by his strange behaviour with him dissapearing all the time, I ask you? He had got me so impatient to get on with it, that I started to play as quickly as him, and made a silly error and lost, which was dopey, because I had loads of time left on my clock, I analysed the game at a later date, with accurate play on both sides it would have been a draw at worst, and he had such little time left, I might have beat him on time, it was now my turn to feel mortified.
Nerves shot, I lost the next two games as well. One clear recollection I had of the whole episode of three days , was feeling completely knackered at the end of it, a very intense experience indeed. It was also my realisation that if I was going to do anything to furthering my chess carreer, I would have to devote a lot more of my mental powers to sudying chess, than I was devoting to learning about computers, driving trucks, reading like a drain, and arguing about philosophy and bringing up a family, I'm afraid the chess lost out, but I often wonder if I had beaten that guy, would my life have taken a different turn?