Saturday, May 26, 2007

Chess Titles and Classes

Just so you understand where I'm coming from ... I've not played chess all my life and have never been a member of the USCF. I've always been curious about what the different titles and classes mean. So I finally took the time this morning to find an explanation of these terms.

A special thanks to Duif for her explanation which is found here.

Grandmaster (GM) title awarded by FIDE for GM norms
International Master (IM) title awarded by FIDE for IM norms
FIDE Master (FM) minimum FIDE rating of 2300 after 24 games
National Senior Master (SM) e.g., USCF Senior Master--USCF 2400+
National Master (Master or NM) e.g., USCF Master--USCF 2200+
National Expert or Candidate Master (E or CM) e.g., USCF Expert--USCF 2000+

National US Amateur Classes
National Class A (USCF 1800- 1999) top amateur class
National Class B (USCF 1600-1799) above average tournament player
National Class C (USCF 1400-1599) average tournament player
National Class D (USCF 1200-1399) a strong social player
National Class E (USCF 1000-1199) social/scholastic players
National Class F (USCF 800-999) novice/scholastic players
National Class G (USCF 600-799) beginner II/scholastic players
National Class H (USCF 400-599) beginner I/scholastic players
National Class I (USCF 200-399) early beginner/scholastic players
National Class J (USCF 100-199) minimum rating

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Mobius Chess

Somehow I missed this Neatorama post back in March.

White to move and mate in two. Here's the solution (seriously!)

'CBS Cancels Plans for Series on Chess Playing Beaver'

Here's the link ... hil-lair-ee-us!

The Anti-Resigner Goes Down with a Fight

A few weeks ago, The Boylston Chess Club blog brought to our attention an Ohio prison inmate who "murdured his cellmate because he kept surrendering during chess games."

Well, as of today at 11:53am local time, Christopher Newton, 37, was pronounced dead after being excuted by lethal injection. But true to his philosophy, he did not resign. The execution team had a hard time finding a vein that would work because Mr. Newton weighed over 300 pounds. Nearly two hours after his scheduled excution, Mr. Newton was finally "mated."

News links here, here, here & here.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Topalov Held Hostage

Elbonian terrorists held Veselin Topalov hostage for several hours. They demanded money from the grandmaster after blind-folding him. The terrorists were unsuccessful in their questioning as Topalov only recited chess moves. They later released the chess master and he continued play in the tournament the next day. Local police forces are searching for the terrorists.

Baseball and Chess

Last fall during the MLB playoffs, it seemed that every report filed on a game had some reference to chess in it.

I ran across a Mariners site today that delves into pattern recognition in baseball stats and chess.

This post says,

Human masters — chess, or baseball — are better than AI programs because they know which factor in a position matters.In chess, all strong players are aware of the dozen or so important factors that are in play in a given position. The player who wins, is the player who knows which is the most important factor.

It is not knowledge that makes the difference between two experts. It is judgment.

The post continues,

It is not data-gathering that separates the boys from the men in 2005. It is the use of good judgment to sift the important data from the noise!
Chessmasters know that this good judgment is rooted in pattern recognition — knowing about similar cases in the past, and knowing in which ways the present case differs from those similar cases.
This latest post refers back to the post mentioned above.

Unfortunately, in chess you have to take this massive amount of data and experience (pattern recognition) and jam it into your head somehow (The Circles). You can't just retrieve the data (via computer database) during a game. In this regard, chess and baseball are not alike. But once you do mange to upload the data into your head, you can then begin focusing on which positions matter most (which I think is the point of the author over at the Mariners blog).

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Chess Around the Net

In this article, the author discusses the beginning of on-line addictions ... namely chess and web surfing. With regard to playing chess he says,

If I was on a roll then I couldn’t stop. And if I was losing, I’d have to keep playing until I started winning again. I’d have intermittent breaks for “meet­ings” with people who thought they were my co-workers. I’d keep playing until midnight, 1am, 2am, all night sometimes, and stumble home just to change clothes. It was ugly and I was scared.

Scared because the truth finally hit me. It was never going away. It’s not as if this internet chess club was a temporary thing. This was here for ever and it was only going to get worse.

Finally, a friend of mine helped wean me off the online chess server. He showed me a piece of software called Mosaic, which could download and format images and text off the internet. Also audio, but only if you wanted to wait two hours for a download. The worldwide web was just starting and there were maybe a few hundred websites at the time.

He continues,

During this period, I would take the occasional bathroom break from my
chess games and I’d see another guy wandering the halls around midnight or so. He told me he was working on something that could read text and catalogue it and he was testing it out by retrieving pages from the few websites there were. He was hoping for government funding so he could work on his little hobby during the day.

“Yeah, right,” I thought to myself as I locked my office door behind me for another session of one-minute chess. “Good luck with that.”

He went back to his computer, which was named and eventually became the computer for the search engine he created, Lycos. It helped his net worth top 9 figures by 1997.

He eventually relates his story to being "one click away from internet fortune."

This is quite a cool chess picture ... it's literally cool.

A landscaping idea for my backyard.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Clash of the Knights

I hadn't played chess for almost two weeks, so after working on CT-ART last night I logged on to FICS to play a few rapid 15 1 games.

I won my first game and then decided to play another one. My second game was against none other than our Troubled Knight ... Blunder Prone.

He soundly clobbered me.

Here's where my house of cards came tumbling down.

Thanks BP for the comment on the other blog. I know I greatly lack in openings, but maybe one day I can focus on them. Your advice will help in the mean time.

Another thing I learned is that I need to play more. I've been so focused on working on tactics that I havn't been giving myself time to play and practice on the board. It shouldn't be too hard to fix that though.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

"Chess Goes to School" Article's Daily Dirt Chess blog featured an article about chess over at Slate.

There were a couple of parts that I found interesting. The first one has to do with tactics and The Circles.

The more patterns a player internalizes, the more intricate a system of
combinations that player can access. At lower levels, that allows a stronger player to run through more possibilities than a weaker one would; at the top, there's a quantitative to qualitative shift, with grandmasters zeroing in on the best possibilities, rather than reviewing more possibilities faster than an expert would. But if you ask a top player to remember random positions of pieces on a chessboard, rather than situations that might actually arise in master-level play, his powers of recall don't correlate nearly as well with his skill. In other words, a studiously honed memory for chess combinations doesn't necessarily transfer to better retention of other material.
The other quote describes chess as such:

Ruthless standards and dizzying freedom, all in one package: That is a rarity. And it is a recipe for what experts call "effortful study," or the process of indefatigably tackling ever harder challenges, which many believe is the secret to successfully pursuing excellence in anything.

The author goes on to point out that chess can be an "all-consuming distraction" and cites an example of a boy named Shawn on the Murrow team who is so addicted to chess that he skips school to play blitz games in the park! Horror of horrors! As if chess were the only cause of a boy skipping class.

Playing chess is like any other sport or hobby or carrer in life. You can take it to an extreme and let it consume you or you can be the master of your domain and control your obsessions. I also think that chess can not only provide a person enjoyment and fulfillment, but it can teach one a lot about choices and life and problem-solving.

Overall, the Slate article was a good read.