A patzer's quest
Wednesday, May 25, 2005
I've signed up for IECG (International Email Chess Group). They have an interesting procedure though: after completing the online signup form, you get assigned to a tutor who verifies that you're familiar with PGN, and can handle a game trough email. It seems my tutor is a PhD in chemistry...which probably means that, after the first, automated email I got, I shouldn't expect very fast answers in the future. :)
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
Funniest/Most interesting GM finger notes on ICC

Parsifal(GM): "I charge $110 an hour for tuition, and if I hear of anyone who charges more than that I shall instantly raise my fees."

Carole(GM): "I have started chess about 5 years ago and I never played in a tournament yet."

NDShort(GM): "Try the chessbase.com server. It is better than this nannying club."

Hawkeye(GM): "I dont lie, i dont swear, i dont smoke, i dont drink and .. damn it now I just dropped my cigaret into my beer..."

canadiankid(GM): "Congratulations to Norwegian admin eeek, who just recently got married! Damn Norwegian, found the prettiest girl in the world!"

1: No I am not Tony Miles.
2: Well not always...
3: I prefer to play blitz with a beautiful woman and a bottle of wine in front of a log fire.
4: Please bring your own logs.

Gumptious(GM): "ICC blitz is fun, but it's also a ferocious man-eating drug, living off adrenaline, egoism and inertia."

Nikephoros(GM): " "Bringer of victory" although usually to my opponents."

Haircutter(GM): "You look like you need a haircut. this is the drunk and bad mood account of some really weak unknown GM." (the guy's rating is 3166, BTW)


Tioro(GM): "I'm currently on leave from the University of Washington working at Google in Mountain View." (now that's something. Can't find the page at Google where they bragged that one of their employees is a chess grandmaster. I had seen it a while ago...)

Hawkeye(GM): "fastest win ever against a GM ... 2,4 seconds .. 10 moves"
Long time controls
It seems everybody is playing long games online. DG even had a "hate-post" against blitz. Well, I am aware of the dangers of only playing blitz, but it seems I have no choice right now. Being on a dialup, charged by the minute, I can't afford staying hours online. If only the phone company would charge by traffic...oh well, I'm daydreaming.

Maybe one day I'll have cable - that if I move.Landlord/owner complications now prevent that. And it isn't exactly cheap, but I guess it would be worth it.
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Religion and chess
This site has a lot of facts about the connection between religion and chess, and how the church banned chess in the past. I particularly liked this line:

"Charles VI (1368-1422) of France continued to forbid chess. He later became unsane."

Hmm..I don't advise anybody to forbid chess. Not if they want to keep their sanity.

(BTW, I thought the word was "insane")
Thursday, May 12, 2005
I've just discovered www.chessarea.com, a site maintained by a handful of romanian masters, aimed towards training and lessons. Seems interesting, especially that their rates are low, compared to what vendors on ICC, for example, charge. I'll have to investigate this further.It might be a good idea to have a personal trainer (one that I could afford), but I'm not very convinced that as an amateur without any lofty goals,playing just for the love of the game, I should spend any serious money on it...apart from a few books here and there.

I still believe that personal dedication and _time_ is what matters most. I mean, no trainer will study for me...they just provide learning material. And there is no shortage of that on the 'net.
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
With so many Knights and chess blogs to follow, one can sometimes lose track and (God forbid!) forget to visit one of the sites on a given day. In such cases, RSS is an excellent tool to use. I didn't really use Thunderbird's RSS feature until I started to read the Knight's blogs. So, if you want to be instantly notified whenever someone posts, and avoid the hassle of going over each and every link in your already crowded Bookmarks toolbar, get an RSS reader (Thunderbird is good, and it can be used for email, too). To read the Boylston chess blog for example, you'd have to put this address into Thunderbird: (right-click on News&Blogs, select Manage Subscriptions and then Add) http://boylston-chess-club.blogspot.com/atom.xml
Monday, May 02, 2005
Chess potpourri
I have been orginizing my chess stuff at home this weekend, to burn them all on a DVD, and I've stumbled upon some old, forgotten things on my CD's. Back then, when kasparovchess.com was still alive, I've downloaded most of their free stuff - lots of video lectures by Sofia Polgar, Alon Greenfeld an Boris Altermann. It was like rediscovering a treasure, reviewing those videos...unfortunately, the videos are in some proprietary format, and for proper replaying, they need some obscure plugin that has since disappeared into a black hole, and I was naive enough back then to forget saving it..I have since developed the habit of saving things off the net. So, what I got from the kasparovchess lectures was a few introductoring slides, and then blank pages, with sound material :) Not of much use anymore, but at least I could hear Greenfeld and Altermann speaking English - and the experience was worth it :)

Something else I've discovered: the World Chess Champions index page, a nice resource for anybody interested in chess champions, with games, highlights, some stories about the matches, all very well organized in a comprehensive index. Alibaba, an experimental chess engine, which seems to have sunked into oblivion, Rebel Decade 3.0, which was, at that time my favourite since it was the only freely available chess program that had the nifty feature of setting it's ELO strength, and I could actually beat it, if I tried enough. Every Friday it's strength rose to the full Rebel strength, 200 points stronger :) And yes, it was my first encounter with a chess database...Too bad it doesn't run on newer Windowses anymore. I have since discovered ProDeo, which is basically Rebel made into a UCI engine, readily pluggable into Arena or Fritz, but it's just not the same thing as Rebel's Dos interface...oh yes, I'm growing old, getting nostalgic like that.

What else was on my old CD's? Manus Fealy's page (wow, it looks so much better now, with much more material!!) was one of the first chess sites I've ever visited and liked, Chesscorner, although designed for kids, was a very pleasent experience, Exeter Chess Club was (and still is) a goldmine, and Tom Kerrigan's simple chess program was the first chess-engine source code I've ever seen. I even tried to rewrite it to use bitboards, gave up after a while.I still don't know why - manipulating bits is so much fun! :)
Friday, April 29, 2005
Opening study
I've just downloaded the ChessliB database (again, as I had it before, and lost it). For those not in the know, this is a free Scid / Pgn database, containing 2 million games (!). Now, who cares if the games are not very new, names are not normalized and so on, things that you only get with a paid-for database? I guess this database is excellent for opening study. Scid has a nice feature, for each position on the board, showing the most common continuations, with percentage played, score etc. I think I'll complement my tactics training with going over a few openings I suck at (that is, every possible opening)

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