Daisy Sue Update

by admin on May 20, 2015

Going off topic again! I don’t plan to turn this chess blog into a pet blog, but I thought some of you might like an update on how Daisy, the new puppy, is doing. Plus, more pictures! After all, what’s the point of having a cute puppy if you can’t post cute puppy pictures?

small from triciaFirst news flash: Daisy is still as cute as ever. The floppy ears are an especially nice touch. They might stand up when she gets older, but we hope not.

Daisy has proved to be quite adept at the Head Tilt. This is a proven technique to make humans fall in love with you. Here she demonstrates both the Right Head Tilt and the Left Head Tilt.

head tilt collage

Here’s a picture my wife took that I call the Ultra Head Tilt. Kay kept making funny clucking noises that made Daisy more and more puzzled, until finally…

ironing board smallMax (the cat) and Daisy are getting along very well, much better than we expected. Actually, having Daisy in the household has made me appreciate Max more, because he is so calm and patient… and he doesn’t have house-training accidents.

Daisy had her second vet appointment yesterday, and we’re pleased to report that she has gone up from 4.4 pounds to 5.3 pounds in her first month with us. The vet predicts that she will eventually weight around 10 pounds, but we don’t really know.

I haven’t played chess with Daisy yet, but she did “help” me a couple days ago by stealing away some pieces as I was setting the board up. You don’t really need a pawn on h2, do you?

Having a new dog is always an adventure and a learning process, even if you’ve had one (or many) before. Every dog has her own quirks. Here are some of Daisy’s:

  • She screams when you give her a shot. When the vet’s assistant took her back for her vaccination, Kay and I gave each other a knowing look. Sure enough, thirty seconds later there came the most terrified yelping — you would have thought they were torturing her. Now that we know this is just the way she is, it’s sort of funny. But of course we don’t know what happened to her before she came to the shelter. It could be that she had some experiences that weren’t funny at all that made her ultra-touch-sensitive.
  • She prefers eating food out of my hand to eating out of a bowl. She will eat out of the bowl, but only as a last resort. She wants me to sit on the floor, so she can sit on my lap, and so that I can scoop the kibble out of the bowl one mouthful at a time into my hand. This makes it ever so much tastier.
  • She is a very sound sleeper. She still spends the night in the crate, but she snuggles with Kay in bed before bedtime, and I practically have to pry her out of bed. She gets so catatonic that she doesn’t move a muscle. Daisy, that is. Although Kay is pretty catatonic too…

small hug attackBedtime.

Okay, for all you non-dog-lovers out there, I’ll get back to chess next time, and you won’t be subjected to any more cute dog pictures… for a few weeks at least.

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The Fewer the Merrier?

by admin on May 18, 2015

I wrote this post on Saturday but had a problem with my website that kept me from posting it until now.

This year’s Aptos Library Chess Club tournament was a smashing success in every way but one. We didn’t have as big a turnout as we did in 2014 (31 players) or in 2013 (37 players). We only had 15 this year. I take the blame for that, because I was not as organized as I usually am. I always make flyers for the kids to take home, but this year I didn’t. I usually start talking about the tournament two months in advance and taking signups at least a month in advance; this year I only started taking signups two weeks in advance.

Nevertheless, the tournament was actually more enjoyable for me as a tournament director because I wasn’t so busy and I actually had time to appreciate how much the kids were enjoying the tournament. There were also some very good, competitive games, and I had a chance to watch them most of the way instead of just catching a glimpse or two of them.

However, this doesn’t mean I want to chase players away! As far as I’m concerned it would be ideal if the tournament had 20-30 players every year.

Anyway, let’s get to the list of winners.

Ages 9 and under:

  1. Rinoa Oliver
  2. Aaron Chan
  3. (tie) Caleb Fernandes and David Kashnow

Aaron has been coming to these tournaments since he was 6 and I don’t think he has ever lost a game before. So it was a big surprise to me when Rinoa Oliver, a girl whom I had not met before, beat him in the third round. Gjon Feinstein, who coaches both of them, said that they were about even in strength. This time Aaron had a knight pinned against his queen but somehow forgot it and moved the knight. So Rinoa won a queen for a bishop. Still, in scholastic chess that doesn’t mean the game is over. I was impressed by the way that she activated her extra queen and turned down a chance to win more material in order to set up a mating net.

Caleb and David are both chess club regulars, playing in their first tournament, so I was thrilled to see them do so well.

Ages 10 and up:

  1. Ben Walker-Edwards
  2. Alex Stender
  3. Cameron Morgan

Two years ago I wrote, “Ben Walker-Edwards got a little bit of a raw deal because he had a 2-0 score going into the last round but had to play Linnea, a game he had absolutely no chance of winning.” Well, this year he got his redemption. Linnea [Nelson] has gone on to college, and there was no one left who could stop him from going 3-0.

Alex (second place) used to be a chess club regular, stopped coming for a while, but then started coming again about a month ago. This tournament really showed a lot of progress for him. I was especially impressed with his round two win against TJ Lavelle. He lost a rook to a knight fork in the opening. But after losing the material, he didn’t just drift aimlessly and lose more. He realized he had to make threats, he formulated a concrete plan of attack and he carried it through. Eventually he got a classic checkmate with his pawn on h3 and queen on g2 (TJ’s king on g1). Bravo! For TJ it was a rough day. I’m sure he would finish in the top three 9 times out of 10 if we ran the tournament again, but this was day 10 out of 10.

Finally, I want to thank the library for making the tournament possible (a free tournament, who has ever heard of such a thing?) and I want to thank the Friends of the Aptos Library for providing a bountiful spread of healthy refreshments. I was very surprised to see many kids eating the vegetables and apples and oranges instead of the cookies!

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Humor 2. Reason 1. Rage 0.

May 13, 2015

This is a mostly off-topic post, but it starts in chess club. At the Aptos Library Chess Club yesterday, a gray-haired woman comes in and starts talking with me. “Oh, I didn’t realize there was a chess club here!” she said. For a little while we chat about the history of the chess club, and […]

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A Fascinating Experiment

May 11, 2015

In my last post I complained about the futility of playing against computers. I got some excellent comments, one of which inspired me to try a new experiment. I decided to play a 10-minute game against Shredder where I get one “time-out” per game. The idea is that I would play until I reached an […]

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Ghosts

May 8, 2015

I hate computers, I hate speed chess, and I especially hate myself for playing speed chess against computers. And here’s why… Position after 33. … g6. White to move. FEN: 1R3b1r/4nk2/p2pNpp1/P1pP2PP/4P3/q1N1Q1K1/8/8 w – – 0 1 While you think about what you would play in the position, I’ll tell you the back story. Last weekend […]

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Winging It

May 4, 2015

While most of my games from the speed chess tournament yesterday were pretty forgettable, I did have one highlight, which was my win over International Master Vladimir Mezentsev. It’s very far from a masterpiece, in fact it’s more like a blunderfest — but hey, it’s a win over a titled player. Even if it’s only […]

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Ray Schutt Memorial

May 3, 2015

Today I played in a chess tournament with a difference — the 9th Annual Ray Schutt Memorial at the Mechanics Institute. It’s been a long time since I went to a tournament and just had fun. The Schutt Memorial is a blitz tournament, 4 minutes per game with a 2-second time increment. There’s no pressure […]

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Matrimony Strikes Again!

April 27, 2015

What did we ever do before the Internet? Today (4/27/2015) I ate my breakfast, opened up my daily Facebook, and there was a picture of a very happy-looking Jesse Kraai at a wedding, which appeared to be his own. This photo is from Salman Azhar, who was apparently sitting in the second row: Although the […]

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Four Queens… and Three

April 25, 2015

Today I happened to watch a pretty amazing bullet game online. The players were identified as Kozakov versus Bah. I think Kozakov is probably grandmaster Mikhail Kazakov of Ukraine, whose name sometimes seems to be spelled Kozakov. According to one comment I read on the Internet, “Bah” is the nom de guerre of international master Vincent Rothuis of […]

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Introducing Daisy Sue!

April 18, 2015

I’ve got to go off-topic today because my household just grew by one, which doesn’t happen every day! Allow me to introduce Kay’s and my new puppy, Daisy Sue. We got Daisy from the Santa Cruz Animal Shelter, where Kay and I both volunteer. Technically we haven’t adopted her yet; we’re waiting to see how […]

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