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Archive for the ‘chess’ Category

Why Pyrex Isn’t Pyrex Anymore

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Who’da thunk it? According to the Ericson Family’s blog, for ten years now, Pyrex has been quietly using a different formulation for their glass cookware. No longer does it contain the borosilicate that gave it that famed indestructibility. Now, it’s just, well… glass. Kinda sad.

There’s hope yet though as their labware still has it. So, why not bake that next casserole in a drying dish? Or a beaker for a measuring cup.  


A quick heads up to my fellow chessplayers and their friends and family. . . I got an email today that Chess House is offering free shipping on ALL orders in the US through Mother’s Day, this Sunday, May 11th. You’ll need to use coupon code c3043. And even if you’re not in to chess, the sets make for beautiful decor. Just remember, it’s “light on the right.” :)

A Tale of the Queen City

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

Last weekend I competed in what I’ve come to fondly dub my “anniversary tournament.” The appropriately named Queen City Open was my introduction to the world of competitive chess a little over half my lifetime ago at age 16. I still remember how nervously excited I was. With so many butterflies, all I could stomach for breakfast that morning was a muffin and juice to which my grandmother treated me at the hotel before the first round. I’ve made it a point not to miss a year since!

My first round encounter with the Expert Leonard Morrissey promised to be one of the best games I’ve played in some time. As it was, after a brilliant series of moves that exemplify the adage “the best defense is a good offense,” I slipped and let it all go in one fell swoop.

In college, I had a roommate on the tennis team. He dabbled in chess, but finally concluded it was too unforgiving a sport for him. You see, after many hours of effort, even a “won” game can be lost in a momentary lapse. He liked that, in tennis, with each point and each game a fresh slate, you almost always have a chance to come back.

Black has just played 22…Bc6 attacking the knight on f3, the key defender of the h2-pawn. 23.Rfd1! Rh3 24.Ra3! b6! Giving his King breathing room. 25.Bxb6 Basically forced, but it works beautifully, as 25…Bxa3 is answered by 26.bxa3 Rxf3 27.Qc5! and despite being a rook down, White is winning. 27…Qb7 28.Rad3! Kb8! 29.exf6 gxf6 30.Qf4+?? Hoping for 30…e5 31.Nxe5 fxe5 32.Qxe5+ and White crashes through first. Alas, the simple 30…Ka8 turns the tables for the last time. Rybka gives 30.Ne5, continuing the fun. A truly heart-wrenching way to end this pretty slugfest.

You’ll recall I went coffee-free for over a week in preparation for this event—an experiment I’m happy to say I’m still continuing. I did get a little tired during this 3.5 hour contest, but I also felt concentrated.

The next round, I had a full-point bye and kicked back in the hotel room watching the Presidential primary results roll in. Regarding coffee, as a calorie restrictor, finding a similarly robust replacement is difficult. I really like Teeccino and all its flavors, but it’s actually rather calorific (20 per Tb), especially when replacing an 8-12 cup a day habit.

In the morning, I was ready to kick butt, feeling good about my overall play, if not the result, and fueled by an all-fruit breakfast of a couple apples, an orange, and a banana. I had the Black pieces against the young Class A player Kevin Ma. Apparently, I played a new move as early as the eighth—rare these days in the ultra-booked environment of modern-day chess.

My Theoretical Novelty in the Accelerated Dragon

8…Bxf3 Previously, only 8…Ne5 had been played. Now White has to take 9.Bxf3, retaining a slight edge. Instead he fell into the trap and continued with 9.dxc6 Bxe2! 10.Qa4? The mistake must be admitted, and the damage minimized to the loss of a pawn, by recapturing on e2. 10…Bxc3+! 11.bxc3 b5 12.Qd4 e5 13.Qd5 Bc4 14.c7 Bxd5 14…Qc8 15.Qxd6 allows too much counterplay. Better to return the piece and head into a relatively easy endgame without all the risk. 15.cxd8/Q+ Rxd8 16. exd5 Rc8 etc..

In the final round, I achieved a better position in the early middlegame against the legendary Master, 76 year old John Curdo. I then sacrificed a pawn for an attack that unfortunately came up short. He gave back the pawn and in the resulting equal late middlegame / early endgame with rooks and queens, proceeded to outplay me. My opponent took a share of third place for his efforts, and I missed out on a portion of the Under 2100 prize by half a point. :(

On the whole though, a most enjoyable tourney and much needed vacation. I didn’t even do any work on the internet! I can proudly say I read a few emails and that’s it. :) Waiting for me at home was a ton of shoveling. Indeed, the drive home was treacherous and slow, with at least a dozen cars off the road along 293 out of Manchester. Yikes. Even at 20 MPH, my anti-locks felt the need to kick in on occasion.

Coffee and Chess

Friday, February 1st, 2008

It’s February 1st, time to start those New Years resolutions! And, if you’ve slipped, now’s your chance to pick yourself up and give it another go. Don’t worry, I’ll refrain from saying “I told ya so.” ;)

Several of the good folks over at rawfoodsforhealth (a Yahoo! group) are participating in a February Challenge of sorts. Some are doing extended fasts, others are committing to 100% RAW, etc..

While it’s not a resolution of mine to quit drinking coffee altogether, I do want to show my support and solidarity, and have agreed to cut it for a week.

Ooooh, I know, big whoop, a week. But, for me, it could be rough going; I’m thoroughly addicted! I’ve gone without for months at on many occasions. Unfortunately, the first few days often trigger a beaut of a migraine. Here’s hoping this time’s different. If I notice positive changes, who knows?, I might it extend it. After all, my veganism started as a two-week “experiment”—though from a solid base of 10-plus years as a low-fat vegetarian.

The timing is good too since I have a chess tournament coming up next weekend. By then, I should be done with the inevitable headache. It’ll be interesting not to be nursing that bottomless mug of coffee throughout the battle. Wish me luck (on both counts). :)

What’s your challenge this month?

Bobby Fischer Is Dead

Friday, January 18th, 2008

Sad news this morning: The first American World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer has shed his mortal coil. :(

Another article, this one from AFP.

To learn more about his tragic ascent and decline:
Bobby Fischer: Complete Games
Bobby Fischer: The Wandering King
Russians v Fischer

My Cookbook:

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