New netbook and coming attractions

by admin on August 31, 2009

I am typing this blog post on a new computer! Kay started seeing advertisements on television for the Dell Lollipop netbook computers.  They’re small, they’re inexpensive, and best of all (to her) they come in cute colors! Women are different from men. When I get a computer, I couldn’t care less what color it is. When I get a digital camera, basic silver is fine. But for women, colors and styling matter. So the Dell folks hit a marketing home run with the Lollipops. The Lollipop commercials gave her netbook lust.

However, Kay is smart. Color isn’t the only thing she takes into account! She got online, read a bunch of reviews, and determined that the Asus Eee has much better reviews than the Dell. Plus, it comes in a cute color. (Navy blue.) So she ordered our new Asus netbook last week from It’s for both of us, and I am doing my first blog post with it.

I have some news about coming attractions in my ChessLectures and my blog. First, this weekend I will go to Tulsa to play in my first U.S. Senior Open, which I qualified for by virtue of turning 50 last November. I plan to blog from the tournament (that was one reason we wanted to get the new computer quickly), and hopefully I might even play some games worth lecturing about. We’ll see about that. You can’t force it to happen.

I recorded a ChessLecture today that will be very interesting to see how people react to. It was called “Zen in the Art of Chess,” and basically it is all about what I just mentioned — the fact that you can’t force things to happen in chess. The title refers to the book Zen in the Art of Archery,  by Eugen Herrigel, which is all about how Japanese Zen masters approach the learning of a discipline. The idea is that you don’t worry about the result. You put your ego aside, your ego which wants you to shoot a bull’s-eye. You don’t shoot the arrow at all, you wait for it to shoot itself. And when you do this right … supposedly … the bull’s-eye just happens. It’s a huge struggle for Herrigel, of course.

Now I’ll let you in on a secret. The lecture was inspired by a request from a listener, but it is actually meant for ME. I am one of the least Zen-like chess players I know. I get all wrapped up in the game emotionally, and I am constantly worrying about the result I want and whether I am going to get it.  This weekend I am hoping to take this more Zen-like approach, focusing on the process and letting the game flow through me, rather than stressing over whether I am winning or losing.

Another coming attraction on ChessLecture will be my first lecture in two years on the Queen Sac Variation (also known as Bryntse Gambit) in the Grand Prix Sicilian. I mentioned in a previous entry that Freddy (who has posted a few comments on this blog) had invited me to check out a thematic tournament he organized on Gameknot where all the games were in this variation. He is fascinated with it, and has now played many more games with it than I have!

He invited me to play a game with him, and the game finished today. It finished rather abruptly, actually. I had an advantageous, perhaps winning (though I don’t know that for sure) position in the endgame, but I overlooked a tactical idea by Freddy that basically took away all of my winning chances. In fact, I had to be careful not to lose. I proposed a draw, which he accepted, and so what promised to be a long drawn-out endgame was suddenly over.

At first I was very unhappy with myself for making this mistake and “spoiling” what I was already starting to think of as my “masterpiece.” But that is really the ego talking. I wanted to be able to brag about a wonderful triumph. But when you take the ego out of it, you can appreciate the fantastic chess that went on in this game, by both players. I played one of my best attacks ever. Freddy came up with wonderfully ingenious defenses. It was chess at the highest level. There is nothing here to feel bad about, nothing at all. I feel privileged to have been part of such a game. I had hoped for a good, competitive game that would teach me more about this opening. It was way more than that.

I won’t say anything more about it now, because I want to save something for my future lecture on the game.

Thanks to all of you for your advice on whether to apply for the Candidate Master title or use the money to buy Chessbase Light instead! I especially liked the response from someone who said I should take my wife out to dinner and apply for the BHOA (Best Husband of All) title. I think I’ll do that. But I will get Chessbase Light too, and install it our new netbook computer. The best of all possible worlds.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jim Krooskos September 1, 2009 at 7:25 am

Good luck at the U.S. Senior Open! I’m playing in the Southern CA Open this weekend too, so I’m excited about it as it’s my first tournament outside the San Diego Chess Club.


henry September 2, 2009 at 4:17 am

just finished the lecture @chesslecture. Excellent
Good luck we will be rooting for you.


Rob September 5, 2009 at 11:24 am


There is a Zen story about two monks who come to a stream and are about to cross it when they encounter a woman who wants to cross the stream as well but is afraid of the deep water. One monk volunteers to carry the woman across. Which he does.

He puts the woman down on the other side and continues with his fellow monk on their journey.

After a while the other monk begins to object to the first monk’s carrying the woman, as their vows as monks prohibits contact with women.

After listening to the monk’s complaints he says; For me, I put the woman down when we reached the other side…we have walked all this way and you seem to still be carrying her.

Perhaps not thinking about the outcome of a chess game would give one the freedom to just engage in the process…and doing one’s best mindfully.

And maybe being present in the moment is hitting the bullseye.

In anycase, good luck to you in Tulsa.


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