Thursday, June 25, 2009

EnglishRussia Features Ivory Chess Sets

The picture blog EnglishRussia had a post featuring several ivory chess sets. Some of the 'themes' of the chess sets were Greek, Persian, Men vs. Women and a very odd one ... fingers.

It looks like all the pieces are chopped-off fingers while the rook is something else. Perhaps it represents the mechanism that chops off the digits. Can anyone shed some light on what message this chess set is trying to convey?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

LCMBM Game 28 Tactic

This is a neat little tactic from Game 28 in Logical Chess Move by Move.
It reminded me of the last tactic I worked on last night at ChessTempo. I must have spent about 20 minutes trying to figure out how to mate or capture the queen. I kept going over the same three 'trees' over and over again thinking I was overlooking something.
It failed to occur to me to consider the tactic was directed at the rook instead of the queen or king. The lesson learned (or 'learnt' for you Brits) was keep moving down the totem pole of targets (king, queen, rook, etc.) until you find the proper tactic.
In the tactic presented here, it is fairly obvious checkmate isn't on the horizon and the queen is off the board. The one little guy sticking out is that pawn on a7. I would have considered taking the pawn, but probably would have been at a loss as to how to extract my knight after said capture. And therein lies the neatness of this tactic.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Standing Game Seek

I'm looking for anyone rated 1600-1800 on FICS to play me between the hours of 18:00 and 20:00 (FICS server time) any day of the week.

I'd prefer someone who would be willing to do a post mortem analysis either after the game or on a later day.

Additionally ...

I don't know if someone has already started this or not since I've not seen it, but I wonder what interest there is out there for starting an on-line chess club at FICS ... in other words there'd be a day(s) set aside each week (just Tuesdays or just Thursdays or both) between the hours of 16:00-20:00 (FICS time) where anyone can stop by and play a game (focus would be on standard games ... 60 5 or 45 45 or similiar). If this already is set up, let me know. If not, would you be interested in something like this?

It only takes two to start a club, so we're already half-way there!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Recent Blitz Game (and testing pgn viewer)

I know ChessFlash has been out for quite sometime, but I'm just now checking it out.

The only way it looks good on my blog is if I do the 'board only' option. If I include the move list on the side or bottom, the board is too small ... this is due to my narrow column. I wish there were an option for making the move list more narrow and the board more wide.

On a related note, I mentioned a while back. I don't know the full scope of that project, but I imagine that eventually you'd be able to post a game or embed a game from that site to your blog. Right now the site is down (hardware failure).

[Event "rated blitz match"]
[Site "Free Internet Chess Server"]
[Date "2009.06.07"]
[White "ZezoJardim"]
[Black "RockyRook"]
[Result "0-1"]
[WhiteElo "1266"]
[BlackElo "1232E"]
[ECO "C00"]
[TimeControl "120+14"]

1. e4 e6 2. f4 c5 3. Nf3 Nc6 4. c3 Nge7 5. Bc4 a6 6. O-O b5 7. Bb3 Bb7 8. d3 Na5 9. Bc2 Qb6 10. a3 c4+ 11. d4 Nb3 12. Bxb3 cxb3 13. Nbd2 Ng6 14. f5 exf5 15. exf5 Ne7 16. Re1 f6 17. Qe2 O-O-O 18. Ne4 Nxf5 19. Nc5 Bxc5 20. dxc5 Qxc5+ 21. Be3 Nxe3 22. Qxe3 Qxe3+ 23. Rxe3 Rhe8 24. Rae1 Rxe3 25. Rxe3 Bxf3 26. gxf3 d5 27. Re7 d4 28. cxd4 Rxd4 29. Rxg7 Rd2 30. Rg2 Rd1+ 31. Kf2 Kd7 32. Ke3 Ke6 33. Rg7 Rb1 34. Rg2 Ke5 35. Kd3 Rc1 36. Rg7 Rc2 37. Rxh7 Rxb2 38. Kc3 Rb1 39. Rh4 a5 40. Rh5+ f5 41. Rh4 a4 42. Rb4 Rc1+ 43. Kb2 Rc2+ 44. Kb1 Rc5 45. h4 Kf6 46. h5 Kg5 47. h6 Kxh6 48. f4 Kh5 49. Rd4 Kg4 50. Kb2 Kf3 51. Rb4 Rd5 52. Kc3 Ke3 53. Kb2 Kd3 54. Kb1 Rc5 55. Kb2 Rd5 56. Kb1 Kc3 57. Kc1 Rd2 58. Rxb5 b2+ 59. Kb1 Rd1+ 60. Ka2 Ra1# {ZezoJardim checkmated} 0-1

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Chess Around the Net

Here's a summary of the USCF battle going on in the courts. I read about this a few years ago and tried keeping up with it, but I got tired-head after a while. Be sure you are awake and alert before you read this article (if you want to comprehend it).

All I can say is 'amen' to this op-ed regarding on-line chess ... especially the part where he states, "I sit here now, musing over a game in which I had three days to respond to my opponent’s move, responded instead in three minutes and impatience has cost me the game.
There is truly no fool like an old fool."

I should have done this for my Eagle Scout Project.

Monday, June 08, 2009

The Chess Artist by J.C. Hallman

This was another one of those Half-Price Books purchases I made on one of the dozens of date-trips Jill and I took there. As always, I scan the chess section for any books that might be on my purchase list. This one was not on my purchase list, but it looked interesting anyway, so I bought it.

I started reading this one after I finished Bobby Fischer Goes to War back in March. But right around that time is when I found out about our job transfer to Houston. So reading and a lot of other things got pushed to the back burner. I read this book on and off for the next three months, but once we settled down here in Houston, I finally focused on finishing it.

The book started out really well and ended really well, but the middle part about Hallman and Glenn's trip to Kalmykia really dragged on. Pretty soon I was wondering if this book was going to be about nothing but their trip to that barren land. It was getting really depressing for several chapters. But I endured and am glad I did. The last few chapters about the tournament and their visit to the prison in Michigan made up for the dullness of the middle.

I enjoyed the chapters about the history of chess. Those chapters fascinated me the most. It was really interesting to read how chess evolved from a game in India to what we play today.

You don't have to be a chess player to enjoy this book, although chess players will find this a good read too.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Rook

I just finished reading The Chess Artist by J.C. Hallman. Although a bit longish, I enjoyed it. The excursion Hallman and his compadre (Glenn Umstead) took to Kalmykia seemed to take up the entire book ... or maybe the book just dragged on during that part. But the parts I enjoyed most were the chapters about the history of chess and how the pieces came to be today as well as all the other chess adventures Hallman and Glenn took (click here to see a picture of the two).

After I finished the book this morning, I went back and re-read the chapter on the Rook. It was a fascinating discovery about myself.

"The rook's movement and its strength relative to the other pieces has
generally suggested the mechanical, vehicles or articles of war. Most often, the rook is infrastructure. As a line piece that can access all the squares of the board - moving in straight line on either ranks of files and capturing along its path - the rook combines the abstract potentials
of the knight and the bishop. Before the piece came to be represented by the figure of a crenelated castle tower, a depiction that appeared between 1524 and 1550, the rook was often portrayed as a two-headed shape. Early carvings of both bishops and knights were upright figures with some kind of aslant protuberance; early rooks had two such projections. In ornate sets it was a knight with two horse heads instead of one."

Hallman later notes in the same chapter that some family coat of arms associated with the word rook retain the two projections. (Rookwood to the left, Rochette to the right and Rochlitz at the top)

He goes on to describe how the rook started as a chariot or ship. In Arabia, rukh mean "chariot" while in Sanskrit roka meant "ship." Once the game arrived in Europe, different countries tried different names. In Germany marchio or "lord of the marches" described the piece, while in England it was known as duke. "A fifteenth-century morality listed rooks as judges for three reasons: a rook cannot play until a way is opened for it; a rook is in danger when on the same color as the king; and a rook loses power when it is 'in the King's palace' (i.e. not yet castled)." But the Europeans did not fully understand the definition of the piece and deferred to the Italian word rocca which meant "fortress." And this is how we have our modern-day rook which looks like a castle fortress.
What I Learned About Myself and the Rook
First of all, what I was fascinated about was learning the rook had a two-headed projection which was carried into family coat of arms. When I did a search on the Rochlitz coat of arms, I was shocked to see the resemblance between that coat of arms and the little icon I created for this blog. Both sport a mirror-R and are black and yellow. Is there some subliminal context of the rook concept that I picked up through the years of playing chess? It's a bit freaky seeing this connection.
Another aspect was the idea that rooks are associated with mechanical vehicles or articles of war and are usually associated with infrastructure. Maybe I'm thinking about this too much, but my entire career has been in infrastructure groups within our IT (i.e. mechanical) company. Also, I partly chose the handle Rocky, which comes from Rocky Balboa (the fictional boxer), because he seems blue-coller-like. To bring this back to infrastructure ... anything to do with infrastructure is very much blue-coller-like .... there's lots of work and it can be menial, but it is vital to the existence of the group/company/nation.
And lastly ... the relation to ships. Over the last few months, I've been becoming a big fan of the old tall-ship, sea-battle paintings that many others have a fixation with (click here to see an example of what I'm referring to which also happens to by favorite painting of this kind). And so when I learned the rook was also associated with ships, the hairs on my arms seemed to stand up.
Anyway, like I said, I may be thinking about this a bit much, but to say the least, it is very enlightening.
Rookwood and Rochette Coat of Arms: House of Names
Rochlitz Coat of Arms: Wikipedia Commons