50 Years of Chess — Year 34

May 16, 2021

What a strange year 2005 was for me over the chessboard. It had some really high highs and some really low lows. In April, I won the biggest cash prize (up to that point) of my life, taking first place in the Expert section at the Far West Open in Reno. In May I played […]

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50 Years of Chess: Year 33

May 8, 2021

Step right up for round two of the Emory Tate versus Dana Mackenzie show! If you didn’t catch round one, you can go back and read it in my Year 31 post. Technically, today’s game is round four, because we had played three games before this one, with two wins for Tate and one draw. […]

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50 Years of Chess: Year 32

May 5, 2021

It’s still inspiring to look back at my diary for 2003. So many great things were happening that year. My first book, The Big Splat, or How Our Moon Came to Be, was published in April, and like any first-time author I was alternating between the heights of jubilation and the depths of despair: “Nobody’s […]

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50 Years of Chess: Year 31

April 25, 2021

The chess world is finally warming up again after the Pandemic Year. I feel a little bit guilty not writing about the 2020-21 Candidates Tournament, the longest tournament in history (?), which is nearing a conclusion more than a year after it began. Ian Nepomniachtchi seems to be on the verge of winning and earning […]

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50 Years of Chess: Year 30

April 13, 2021

The year 2001 is one I’ll always remember for two trips, neither having anything to do with chess. The first one was a trip to Santa Fe, where I was scheduled to interview Stuart Kauffman for Discover magazine. This was a super exciting opportunity, as Discover was the highest-profile magazine I had written for yet […]

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50 Years of Chess: Year 29

April 3, 2021

Two posts ago I wrote about the Santa Cruz chess “scene” as it was when I first moved here, in the late 1990s. I didn’t mention that Monterey also had a little bit of a chess scene. A forty-five minute drive away, on the other end of the Monterey Bay from Santa Cruz, it had […]

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50 Years of Chess: Year 28

March 28, 2021

In the next year of my chronicle, 1999, I got the opportunity to play three present or future U.S. champions in one year: Hikaru Nakamura (champion in 2005, 2009, 2012, 2015, 2019), Roman Dzindzichashvili (1983, 1989) and Walter Browne (1974, 1975, 1977, 1980, 1981, 1982). So that’s thirteen years of U.S. champions who sat across […]

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50 Years of Chess: The Santa Cruz Scene

March 23, 2021

Before I go too much farther in my chess chronicle, I should say a little bit about the chess scene in Santa Cruz, which was very lively when I moved here in 1996 and very moribund now. When I moved here, you could play 5-minute chess any day of the week at the Santa Cruz […]

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50 Years of Chess: Year 27

March 22, 2021

One of the best things about living in California is the fact that you’re so close to Hawaii! Close in a relative sense, of course. It’s 2400 miles from San Francisco to Honolulu, which is about the same as the distance from San Francisco to Washington, DC. But still, there’s a big psychological difference between […]

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50 Years of Chess: Year 26

March 13, 2021

And now let us begin the downward half of my chess chronicle! I jest, of course. The last 25 years, since I moved to California, have been the best of my life, both in chess and otherwise. On July 29, 1977, I wrote in my diary, “Daddy asked me what I thought I’d be doing […]

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