Blogging from 64 Feet

by admin on September 22, 2009

I’ve been kind of quiet since my last post, “Blogging from 32,000 Feet.” No particular reason, except that I haven’t had a lot to blog about. So this is going to be a kind of random grab bag of news. Feel free to send in a random response!

  • The U.S. Chess League has started up again, and my “homeys” the San Francisco Mechanics are doing pretty well. In week four Jesse Kraai scored a crucial win to give San Francisco its third consecutive win after an opening-week tie. The Mechanics are now leading the Western Division.
  • Attendance at the Aptos Library chess club, which I run every Tuesday, has really been booming this fall. We had about 14 kids today, and we have had at least 12 kids every week this month. It’s amazing how the beginning of school gets the kids interested in chess again. I’m also really happy about how the kids are responding to the lessons. I am very impressed with their ability to spot threats and suggest reasonable moves during my lessons. I do not always see them transferring these skills to their own games, but perhaps that just takes a little time.
  • In today’s chess club I went over the exciting finish of the game Friedel-Zivanic from week two of the U.S. Chess League, which won Game of the Week honors. Let’s just say that my 8- to 10-year-old students would have played a better move than Zivanic did on move 16! What game will I go over next week? Probably another U.S. Chess League game!
  • Today I re-recorded a ChessLecture about my game with Freddy in the Queen Sac Variation of the Sicilian Defense. I recorded a lecture on it last week, but there were technical problems so that the audio did not match up with the video. So I had to do it over again, which was all right with me because my first try lasted over an hour. I feel strongly that a good lecture should not be more than an hour long. I’m not sure how long today’s lecture went because there were a few other technical problems: a dog barking, an incoming phone call, and my microphone spazzing out. (It does that pretty often, actually.) However, I’m pretty sure that it will be under an hour, and it will be a good lecture.
  • Speaking of ChessLecture, I’m pleased to report that ChessLecture now supports Macs, and a couple of my friends who didn’t subscribe earlier have now signed up to take advantage of this. If you’re a Mac user, please check it out! ChessLecture is at
  • My next big tournament will be the Western States Open in Reno in October. However, I’m thinking of also playing in the Adult Open in San Jose on October 3 and 4. This is one of several upcoming tournaments sponsored by, which is rapidly turning into one of the busiest affiliates of the USCF. Ever since I moved here I have complained that there isn’t as much tournament action in the Silicon Valley as you’d expect. But that’s no longer the case! Now we have the opposite situation, where we actually have more tournaments than I really have time to enter. By the way, the minimum age to enter the Adult Open is 17, making this my second straight age-limited tournament! (Last one was, of course, the U.S. Senior with a minimum age of 50.) I suspect that this is a response to a complaint, or let’s say an observation, that I have made before: Silicon Valley tournaments tend to have a very strange age distribution, with about 85 percent of the players under age 16 and the rest over 30. Somehow we are losing the young-adult population. Let’s hope that this tournament will encourage them to come back.
  • What am I going to do about my openings? I’ve been going over some of my recent games and coming to the conclusion that it’s time to re-think them. As White, I have a bunch of variations after 1. e4 that I really love, but there isn’t a really sound one among them. Should I go back to 1. d4, which I haven’t played in tournaments since 2000? Or should I perhaps play 1. Nf3 and try for a small advantage, as Bill Paschall recommends in his excellent ChessLecture from last week, “A White Repertoire with 1. Nf3”? Do I even know how to play chess with a small advantage? Maybe this would be a good practical reason to play in the BayAreaChess Adult Open in two weeks, to test out a new opening repertoire.
  • Speaking of openings, I spent some time this morning (finally) updating “Dana’s Secret Chess Files” (see link in the sidebar) so that they include my entire series of blog posts on the Caro-Kann Advance Variation and my entire series on the Bird Variation of the Ruy Lopez. If you missed those, or if you read them but want to see them again, that’s an easy way to find them.
  • And yes, 64 feet is roughly the elevation of my house here in Santa Cruz. I looked it up on a topographical map online.
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Michael Goeller September 25, 2009 at 6:19 pm

Well, 64 is a good number if you are a chessplayer, and maybe enough to survive global sea level rise….

I can certainly identify with what you say about your need for repertoire renovations I have been torn between an aggressive opening repertoire (especially as White) and a more careful and strategic repertoire. But I find in the end it is nice to have both.

It’s hard to see 1.Nf3 as your style. I think you would be better off just adding some more positional lines to your 1.e4 repertoire. I’d be curious to hear what you come up with…


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