Taking stock

by admin on June 30, 2008

We’ve just about reached the half-year point of 2008, which seems like a good time for taking stock. What would you like more of in this blog? Do you have any suggestions that would make it more useful, fun, or interesting for you?

Here are some specific possibilities:

More tournament coverage? I think that the most fun I had with the blog this half-year came when I went to Tulsa for the U.S. Championship Qualifier. Perhaps I should make more of an effort to go to the biggest tournaments on the west coast, at least. But it’s not a cost-free proposition. Big tournaments are expensive, and also my wife doesn’t particularly like it when I spend a weekend away from the family. So I would really need a good reason (such as overwhelming popular demand) to increase my tournament schedule.  😎

More photographs? This kind of goes hand in hand with going to more tournaments, because that is where those “Kodak moments” are likely to occur.

More individual profiles? I had expected to do more “journalism” in this blog, interviewing interesting people and writing about them. But after my profile of John Donaldson in November, I kind of lost interest in this idea. I was really happy with how the profile came out, but it was a lot of work.

More “Chess Wit and Wisdom”? My apologies! The little quote on the upper right hand side of the page has not changed in months. I had intended to change it, oh, every week or so. No excuses, I’m just lazy.

More book reviews? Unexpectedly, my longest comment thread came as a result of a book review. But I learned a lesson … Be careful what you say in a review, because if the author is still alive and kicking, he might read it and kick back!

More game analysis? Less game analysis? More games by other players? More of my own games? I’m kind of ambivalent on this. On the one hand, the way I learn the most about chess is definitely by going over games — usually, my own games — and so I feel as if my most substantive posts (and also the ones that take the most time to write) involve game analysis. On the other hand, “substantive” isn’t always what people want in a blog. Lots of times you just want something entertaining. I’m the same way myself.

Keep everything just the way it is? That would be okay with me, too!  😎

Thanks for your comments and feedback!

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Rob July 1, 2008 at 1:30 am

Hello Dana…

I enjoy your blog for what it has mostly been, a little of this and a little of that.

I enjoy hearing of your experiences both in chess and elsewhere.

I am ok with the book reviews. It seems that every week a new book comes out that some reviewer says is terrific. Should I buy it – I more often find it ain’t all that great. Maybe inviting readers of the blog to share their best/worst chessbook experience would be interesting.

Re. Photos…the Guardian (newspaper of England) has an interesting feature of writer’s workspaces. Perhaps photos of where players play chess might be interesting, but maybe not.

Re. Analysis…I like to read them, especially if they are verbalized and not just a lot of lines of positions from other simular games. I would enjoy hearing more about how one learns to analyse one’s games effectively.

I think your blog reflects the fact that we who play chess are all in this situation together. We all mostly want to play skillfully and win. But it just doesn’t happen…sometimes with all the stuff I read and look at, I feel like Perceval who fails in his search for the Holy Grail due to his not asking the right questions nor seeing what it was when he held it in his hand…through your blog and chess lectures…I realize you have not exactly found the secret to success but you still hold to the process. Your effort (and humor) help sustain my own motivation.


Michael Goeller July 1, 2008 at 11:05 am

I just discovered your blog about a month ago, though I’ve been a fan of your videos at ChessLecture.com, especially the brilliant tour de force analysis of “The Nuclear Option” in the Sicilian Grand Prix. I also liked the article you wrote for Chess Life on the same topic. Though I probably will never play that Queen sac line myself, I found it very interesting and inspiring, especially the rules you came up with on how to pursue White’s initiative without succumbing to the material deficit.

It’s obvious that game analysis (especially analysis of your own games) is what you do best, so stick to it. You have a great personal style and your explanations are helpful without being too condescending.

My own interests tend more toward openings (like the Nuclear Option piece), but I have really enjoyed your analysis articles. My only recommendation would be to include more opening commentary where appropriate….


admin July 1, 2008 at 2:48 pm

Rob and Michael, thanks for your wonderful comments! The Holy Grail — what a perfect analogy! Just like the knights of yore, we aspire to the cup of knowledge, or something. Maybe I drank a sip from the cup once, in the Pruess game, but that may be as close as I ever come. To actually own the cup — that is a privilege that few (if any) players can claim.

Michael, I think you have a good idea. I have done very few lectures on openings for ChessLecture, because I simply don’t feel qualified. My approach to the opening has been to go my own way, and it’s not a way I necessarily recommend for other players. But I could certainly present some of my warped opening variations here, strictly on a “caveat emptor” basis, without worrying too much about poisoning the minds of our youth. I’ll definitely think about doing more of that in the future.

By the way, for anyone reading this, Michael has the DEFINITIVE web page on something called the Urusov Gambit (1. e4 e5 2. Bc4 Nf6 3. d4) and its cousin, the Perreux Variation of the Two Knights Defense (1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. Bc4 Nf6 4. d4 ed 5. Ng5), a variation I have always found somewhat paradoxical. Check out his analysis at http://www.rci.rutgers.edu/~goeller/urusov/index.html.


Carina July 3, 2008 at 10:48 am

I love book reviews, since I read alot and like recommendations/thoughts on potential books to get. Reading about them first makes them more interesting.

I also love chess photos, because I’m always on the lookout for reference material for drawings/subjects (might draw you in that black and white photo one day! :D).

I don’t like game analysis, mostly because I prefer video lectures or watching stuff at ICC. I learn by seeing and hearing. 😀 Reading analysis about chess is hard work for me, though if I had to do it, I’d pick analysis written in the gentle tone the analysis in this blog has.

More chess wit and wisdom is welcome! Stop being so lazy!

I’m neutral about writing profiles on people. Guess it might be interesting if the person is interesting? I’d probably only read it if I were already curious about the person, though.

I like the entries that tell stories. 😀


Andres D. Hortillosa July 3, 2008 at 4:11 pm

I like your games because the ideas are original. I like reading about personal struggles of other players in their quest to improve their game.


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