Potpourri

by admin on December 14, 2009

It’s been a few days since my last blog post, so I sat down today and decided to write an update. But what should I write about? I haven’t played a game in two weeks. I haven’t studied any chess games in the past week, because I was too busy writing an article for New Scientist. Over the weekend, my usual chess study time, I had too many Christmas parties to attend. My hula school had a party on Saturday, and the animal shelter where I volunteer had a party on Sunday. And besides that, I went with my wife to pick out a Christmas tree and then we decorated it last night.

So I admit it, real life has gotten in the way of my chess (and my blogging about chess).

In such circumstances a blogger must resort to linking to other things that are going on in the world. Here’s a link to the World Cup, which finally finished today, with the victory going to Boris Gelfand of Israel. He was the top-rated player in the tournament, but is not someone who ordinarily leaps to mind as one of the leading players in the world. Maybe people will now pay a little more attention to him.

However, the tournament itself went on way too long. After all the U.S. players got eliminated, and the only people left were not really the most famous GMs, I kind of lost interest. Judging from the photos of the final match at Chessbase.com, I was not the only person to lose interest. Observe the auditorium with lots and lots of vacant seats, and the press conference with only a half dozen reporters. They could have held this press conference in a closet, instead of a cavernous lobby! Somehow FIDE’s strategy of holding the World Cup championship in a city in Siberia that is almost impossible to get to (see Josh Friedel’s account) failed to attract wide public interest. I can’t imagine why not.

Other news in the chess world: Magnus Carlsen is dominating yet another tournament, the London Chess Classic. This looks like a much more entertaining tournament than the World Cup. First, it has Carlsen, Kramnik, Nakamura, and former world championship candidate Nigel Short (who is actually in last place!). Second, it’s in London. 

At the moment, there is one more round left in the tournament, and Kramnik could still beat Carlsen (in spite of losing their head-to-head matchup in round one) because of the 3-1-0 scoring system. Wins are worth three points and draws are only worth one. If Kramnik can beat Nakamura in the last round, while Carlsen draws against Short, Kramnik would win the tournament with +4 -1 =2 (14 points), while Carlsen would be second with +3 -0 = 4 (13 points).

Another thing a blogger can do for inspiration is to take a tour around the blogs. Michael Aigner writes about the National K-12 Championships (a tournament in which each grade plays in a separate section). There are two very curious things to notice. First, northern California kids had a smashing performance in grades K through 6. In fact, they took home a 1st place trophy, a 2nd place, a 3rd place, a 4th place, a 5th place, a 6th place, and a 7th place! (Keep in mind that those were not all in the same section.) The second curious thing is that there were no northern California kids in grades 7 through 12 playing in Dallas. Why?

Maybe they are playing abroad — like Danya Naroditsky, who played in a tournament in Wijk aan Zee, the Netherlands, over the Thanksgiving holiday. No, it was not the Wijk aan Zee tournament (that’s in January 2010), but I’ll bet you’ll see him there in the future. His father reported in an e-mail that Danya is “much more popular in Holland than here.” He jokes that his wife wanted to stay in Holland. At least let’s hope it was a joke! After losing Fabiano Caruana to Italy, we don’t want to lose any more of America’s young stars to other countries.

The last thing that a truly desperate chess blogger can do is go off topic. For example, Mark Ginsburg writes about how much he enjoys the Tiger Woods saga. Elizabeth Vicary has some strange video of a bunch of people singing in a supermarket. (I’m sure that she will have a report up on the K-12 Nationals soon.) Let’s see … For an off-topic entry, I could write about my wife’s mammogram, which took place this afternoon. She took great glee in demonstrating for me what it feels like. Guys, you do not want to subject yourselves to this.

But no, I’m not that desperate. See you next time.

P.S. I have just gotten a new iMac, and I am going to transition from the PC world to the Mac world starting next week. Does anyone know whether Fritz or Rybka work on a Mac? If not, what chess program should I get?

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Chessperado December 14, 2009 at 8:37 pm

Hi dana,
I have a macbook. The only chess software I run natively on Mac is Shredder, so far I like it. One more option is Bootcamp, it allows you to boot your computer on windows and one more is fusion or parallel. I only use these option when it is work related. Let me know how it goes.

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Michael Aigner December 15, 2009 at 8:56 am

Between the travel cost to Texas, time off work for parents and missing 2-3 days of school, it is difficult for middle and high school kids to attend the fall nationals. In fact, most of the top kids around the country skip this tournament, especially above 6th grade.

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Robin Cunningham December 15, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Hi Dana,

http://www.sigmachess.com has a decent chess application. You can download a competent freeware version, then if you need the fancier aspects you can pay $20 or so. The recent game I sent you by e-mail was easily published using the freeware version.

Robin

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