How chess and mess define the meaning of life..

tip o' da hat to susan polgar's blog where i found this and i pass along

How chess and mess define the meaning of life

Stephen Poole previews cultural studies titles in 2007

Saturday December 30, 2006
The Guardian

It's always nice to see one's pet theories confirmed by rigorous analysis, and a subject close to this writer's heart is encapsulated in the title of A Perfect Mess: The Hidden Benefits of Disorder, by Eric Abramson and David H Freedman (Weidenfeld, January). Looking at more than just my desk, the authors conclude that there is an ideal level of messiness that makes any system more robust and productive. The virtues of disorder are illustrated with examples from "business, parenting, cooking, the war on terrorism, retail and even the meteoric career of Arnold Schwarzenegger", and the authors promise that their insights can be applied on a society-wide scale as well as to your kitchen. I would say more on the subject, but I seem to have lost my notes somewhere in the piles of detritus towering around me.Apparently averse to mess, on the other hand, is Phil Spector, legendary record producer and - it says here, rather unkindly - "demented control freak". Are there well-balanced control freaks? Shouldn't a record producer actually want to be in control? Spector gave his first interview in 25 years to journalist Mick Brown in late 2002. Two months later, the producer was arrested after an actress was shot dead in his Los Angeles castle. Thus prompted, Brown has written Tearing Down the Wall of Sound (Bloomsbury, April), recording his own "personal odyssey" into the bizarre story of the man with the golden ears who gave the world such acoustic palaces as "Unchained Melody" and "River Deep, Mountain High". Spector's long-delayed murder trial finally begins in January.

Chess genius Garry Kasparov, whom no one would dare to call a "demented control freak" to his face, retired from competitive play in 2005, but has hardly been idle since, founding the Russian political party United Civil Front and continuing to write his history of chess, titled with no false modesty My Great Predecessors. Now, somewhat like a hirsute, modern Sun Tzu, he offers his general philosophy of strategy, How Life Imitates Chess (Heinemann, March). As he promised in a Wall Street Journal article last year, the book "examines the unique formulae people use in thinking and problem-solving. For example, the way hope and doubt affect how we process information, or the way we perform in a crisis. I hope it will also serve as a guide to improving these processes." Can the ability to calculate a 20-move forced tactical sequence in chess help you navigate the shark-infested waters of office politics? We shall see.

Competing in the sage stakes is Terry Eagleton, the fun-loving literary critic who has lately taken to offering public lessons in theology to Richard Dawkins, probably not much to the latter's enrichment. It will be interesting to see if this spat has any bearing on the content of Eagleton's new book, breezily entitled The Meaning of Life (Oxford, February). (No doubt it's only to me that this looks like a misprint for The Meaning of Liff.) Schopenhauer, Beckett and Shakespeare are wheeled on and off, and people are castigated for filling the void of meaning with Scientology or football. We are promised laughs along the way. "The meaning of life is a subject fit either for the crazed or the comic, and I hope I have fallen more into the latter camp than the former," Eagleton writes. I hope so too; I really do.

It may not be clear where Paul Virilio fits in Eagleton's curious schema of crazed or comic (to which there is no doubt more than mere alliteration), but the zestfully polemical French philosopher of speed no doubt hopes to ruffle a few complacent feathers with his Art As Far As the Eye Can See (Berg, July). Virilio loves to provoke with vast diagnoses. "The defining characteristic of mass culture today is cold panic," according to his new book's blurb. "The same panic which has used terrorism to derail democracy has hijacked the whole art enterprise. This panic is reliant on audio-visual technology to create a new all-seeing, panoptic politics. And the first casualty of this politics is the art of seeing ... In the 21st century, the new battleground is art as light versus art as matter." Is it true? What does it mean? It will be fun to find out.

More apparently traditional literary talk might be expected from Kevin Jackson's The Book of Hours (Duckworth, March), which includes such curious facts as that dinner used to be taken at 10am and has gradually slipped ever later, and explanations of Linnaeus's floral clock (which told the time using smell), or the system of bells on Royal Navy ships. In the hands of a lesser writer you might fear a merely twee temporal miscellany, but Jackson, author of the wonderful Invisible Forms (on the paratextual paraphernalia of books: indexes, acknowledgments, footnotes and so on), can be relied upon to make of it something fascinating. Meanwhile, a hush of anticipation should by rights attend the new book by Milan Kundera, whose The Curtain (Faber, March) is an essay on the novel. We each, he argues, have a preconceived notion of reality - "a magic curtain, woven of legends, hung before the world" - and the job of the novelist is to tear through it and reveal what lies on the other side. (A small wizard?) The maestro also promises to make more of translinguistic influence than is usually allowed in talk of "the English novel" or "the French novel". We are lucky to have a great novelist who is also a great critic.

· Steven Poole's Unspeak is published by Little, Brown


day two

well last night i ran through the chess vision/ knight moves as well as 25 problems from the pandolfini book.. i got 88% right (22-25) AND i even found a solution not given in the answers, which made me pretty proud.. im thinking to add variation to the chess vision drills and add pieces next week, perhaps Q v K, R, and N, something to spice it up once i have the original drilled into my head.. im trying to finish a game i am involved in, and i am very close to mate, and i have been using pins and discovered mates.. at one point i had a 'double check' and i am hoping to finish this off before i stumble into a stalemate.. i will post the game as soon as i am done..


day one..

so i started on my quest to complete the MDLM program for chess improvement.. last night i ran the concentric drills using the K+R and i used the Q, R, B, and N.. i think every day i will change so i run a cycle of K+R, +Q, + N, +B, and then i will change the starting squares.. the knight moves are quick to run through, and like it says, the squares start to pop out at you.. running through the tactic drills, i did about 25-30 from the little exercises in pandolfini's chessercises, and interestingly enough, the ones i got correct, i found the answer quickly, maybe 5 minutes, but the ones that stumped me stumped me good.. i had about a 70% rate last night.. i found that i need to look at the board longer and carefully and not get frustrated so easily when the answer doesnt materialize quickly..


getting ready to drink the kool-aid

most everyone who browses the chessblogs knows about michael de la maza, his book, rapid chess improvement, and his articles "400 points in 400 days", parts one and two.. there is a legion of disciples and devotees who have followed and implemented his program in part or in whole, or some sort of variant which seems to be inspired by this method.. those that have influenced me in my decision to implement some sort of program are chessforblood, j'adoube, bluedevilknight, temposchlucker, nezha, and a recent addition to the fray, GM-grandemerda.. interesting with GM-grandemerda is that he is from brasil.. while i am cuban-american, i live not to far from him, about 12 hours away, we both live in the northeast of brasil, albeit different states.. there are more "knights errant" around the web, but those that i mention are the ones i visit and see updated on a regular basis, if i missed someone i apologize.. heres the program i have fashioned.. i plan to do the chessvision drills described in part one, the concentric-capture drill and the knight moves for a month.. at the same time i will do a "mini" part two.. i will be using bruce pandolfini's "chessercises" which contains 200 drills, in various tactics, mates, pins, skewers, etc, and i use the example in the article using a 8-4-2-1 cycle, 25 exercises in 8 days, then 50 in 4, 100 in 2, and finally all 200 in one day.. at this point i feel i would be better prepared to start the "full" version of the program with the 1000 exercises recommended in the article..i'd like to give a big shout out and thanks to patrick of chessforblood which provided the link where i found the tactics exercises.. this site here provides 3000 drills.. for my foray into this program i decided on the easy levels I, II, and III, medium I, II, III, IV, V, hard I, and advanced I.. i will be balancing work (general manager of a soccer team and and the junior teams), family, and chess into this mix, and as most of those who started this program can attest its not an easy climb.. i will pass along how my progress is going..


Cuba's Bruzon Goes to Semifinals of Mexican Chess Tournament

Cuba's Bruzon Goes to Semifinals of Mexican Chess Tournament
By Maryla García Santos

Merida, México, Dec 20, (P26).- Cuban Grand Master Lazaro Bruzon has taken another step in his aspirations to keep the title of the Carlos Torres Repetto in Memoriam chess tournament after defeating Germany's GM Alexander Graf.

Bruzon had to play hard in the match against Graf. The Cuban player lost the first game playing with black pieces but he won the second, and so they played 15-minutes games. Playing with whites, Bruzon beat Graf in 35 moves.

As he was totally recovered, the Cuban youth imposed his playing style in the definitive match, winning both 15-minute games. Such result permitted the tournament's defending champion to advance to the semifinal round, which is played today. This time he will face US Jaan Ehlvest.

Ehlvest eliminated Mexico's International Master Manuel Leon Hoyos, after drawing with him in the morning and winning in the afternoon in 53 moves.

The other Cuban that is taking part in this competition, GM Frank de la Paz, got a remarkable result by defeating the Netherlands number one player: GM Serguei Tiviakov.


More on the Crazy Chess Killer


A MAN dubbed the Crazy Chess Killer has confessed to murdering 61 people in a six-year killing spree.

Alexander Pichushkin, 32, was arrested just three short of his alleged target of 64 - one for each square on a chess board.

Most victims were elderly men and many bodies are unaccounted for.

Police said: "He implies his killings were somehow linked to moves in a chess game. As yet we don't understand the pattern."

Pichushkin told detectives "I'm a great fan of chess" - and then handed them a notebook containing a sketched chess board with the date, time and victims filled in the squares.

He says he killed people who moaned about their problems. Pichushkin, from Moscow, has been charged with 49 murders.


i love my wife

i got my Christmas present early this year.. i live in brasil, and my bosses wife came down for the holidays.. my wife puts up with my chess craze, shes even learning the game.. she sat down to surf the web, find info and found a chess wallet.. she showed it to me and said she wanted to give it to me for Christmas.. who am i to complain..

Kasparov in the gossip column

Chess champ making move on Island

Palm Beach Post Columnist

Friday, December 15, 2006

The cash to fuel Russian President Vladimir Putin's political demise could come by way of Palm Beach.

The diminutive ex-KGB agent's arch enemy, former chess superstar Garry Kasparov, has set up his world headquarters on the tony island. He's getting ready to start fund-raising stateside for his oust-Putin cause and possible run for the presidency.

From a hole-in-the-wall office on the second floor of a Peruvian Avenue commercial building, Kasparov's longtime agent, Owen Williams, tells Page Two he has set up a nonprofit, Freedom for a Democratic Russia, and is launching an English-language Web site to disseminate stories about how crooked the current Russian regime is.

Kasparov's 1984 world championship match against Anatoly Karpov became legendary, but he quit chess nearly two years ago for politics. Now Kasparov, 43, who has been in Palm Beach four times in recent years, has gotten so deep under Putin's skin that he expects to be arrested at an anti-Putin demonstration Saturday in Moscow, Williams said.

Police looking for "subversive literature" raided Kasparov's Moscow office Wednesday.

"I'm transitioning from running Garry's businesses to helping with his campaign," said Williams, 74. "He's made a modest fortune ($10 million) from chess, but politics are expensive."

With some Putin opponents turning up poisoned these days, other tenants in the Palm Beach building have grown wary. Some said they've seen guys in dark suits and government cars hanging out, but FBI spokeswoman Judy Orihuela said Thursday she couldn't confirm they were G-men.

Williams recently had his phones equipped with scramblers and his computers equipped with spy-proof firewalls.

"At my age, I'm not worried about polonium or spies," Williams said.

Russian Crazy Chess Killer

yesterday i posted a bit about madness and mental illness.. fellow blogger nezha asked why the sudden interest.. no reason really, but out of the blue i see this:

Friday Dec 15 15:12 AEDT

A Russian man dubbed the Crazy Chess Killer has been charged with 49 murders but failed to achieve his goal of 64 - one for each square on a chess board.

Investigators say Alexander Pichushkin has confessed to murdering 62 people during a six-year killing spree.

But they have only been able to charge him with 49 counts of murder because Pichushkin can't say where the rest of the bodies are.

He allegedly told police soon after his arrest in June that he planned to kill one person for every square on a chess board, but regretfully added there were a few "vacant" squares, and that he'd not fulfilled his goal.

Most of the victims were elderly men, with 14 bodies - including that of a co-worker Marina Moskaleva - found in the same Moscow park.

Pichushkin had worked at the same grocery store with Moskaleva and it was the discovery of her body on June 14 that led to his arrest.

Moskaleva had left her son a note with Pichushkin's number on it before she was found dead.

When questioned, Pichushkin boastfully told police he had killed not just her but 61 others.

The murders Pichushkin described stretched across various parks and other locations across the city, starting in 2000.

With little in the way of age, gender or career linking the victims, investigators say the only pattern they have established in the deaths is that they were caused by a blow to the head.

Alexander Kshevitsky, a Russian federal investigations official, said medical experts would decide whether Pichushkin was sane enough to stand trial.

He said many bodies remained unaccounted for.

"In a few cases, there aren't victims, but missing people," Kshevitsky said.


Dr. Chess has arrived

as i said in this post i was surfing the web for info on chess and mental illness and came up with another interesting blog.. this one is by a doctor who covers all sorts of topics but chess has popped up in his posts a few times.. take a look..

The white knight is talking backwards

i was surfing the web for some info on chess and mental illness and i found this post which i found interesting.. dont know if the links within the article work, but its still an interesting read..

The white knight is talking backwards

Why do so many chess players wind up with severe mental illness? People have long noted connections between madness and a talent for math and logic; in his excellent book Engines of Logic -- a history of the people who brought us conceptual framework of the computer -- Martin Davis discovers that easily half the guys were wildly ill. But in modern times, it's the ravings and antics of Bobby Fischer that pose the question most directly: Did chess trouble his mind, or is it simply that people with troubled minds seek out chess?

Could it be that chess is a palliative? Does someone with that much logical talent literally need chess as a steam-release-valve, or a meditative focus for their brains? British chess Master Bill Hartston once quipped that "chess doesn't drive people mad, it keeps mad people sane". I've spoken with chess masters who describe their mental states in fascinating ways: "The chess pieces eventually just vanish," as one once told me, "and you just see the board in your mind as vectors of force and movement, like the purest geometry ever." He also told me that when he lies in bed he can't get the images out of his head; this causes insomnia, which itself, of course, can trigger depression or manic episodes. Everyone who's played a few hours of Tetris or Halo knows what it's like to have that stuff stuck in your head; imagine how much more intense it is for people who think about chess for hours and hours a day.

This question -- whether the playing of serious chess can loop into a self-reinforcing spiral -- is damn interesting, and Charles Krauthammer, of all people, recently tackled in it a Time column. He notes that while chess requires monomaniacal focus, so do sports like golf, and nobody's worried about Tiger Woods going mad. Then Krauthammer makes his most intriguing points:

Well, then, this must be monomania of a certain sort. Chess is a particularly enclosed, self-referential activity. It's not just that it lacks the fresh air of sport, but that it lacks connections to the real world outside -- a tether to reality enjoyed by the monomaniacal students of other things, say, volcanic ash or the mating habits of the tsetse fly. As Stefan Zweig put it in his classic novella The Royal Game, chess is "thought that leads nowhere, mathematics that add up to nothing, art without an end product, architecture without substance."

But chess has a third -- and unique -- characteristic that is particularly fatal. It is not just monomaniacal and abstract, but its arena is a playing field on which the other guy really is after you. The essence of the game is constant struggle against an adversary who, by whatever means of deception and disguise, is entirely, relentlessly, unfailingly dedicated to your destruction. It is only a board, but it is a field of dreams for paranoia.

Research into the relationship of chess and mental illness will reveal some really cool things about the mind, I predict.


Shakhmatnaya goryachka/ Chess Fever

Here’s a link to a great silent Russian film about chess, Shakhmatnaya goryachka/ Chess Fever.. jeremy silman has this to say about the film..

Chess Fever

I’ve seen lots of chess oriented movies and television shows, but few really made much of an impression. Of course, being chess players we always hope that such films will affect us deeply, that someone will finally manage to properly portray the energy and artistry that is the chess experience – but some measure of disappointment is usually the result.

Aside from the amazing hour-long chess episode of LEXX (click HERE for a detailed description), which is a TV show and not a movie, I have found this twenty-eight minute, black and white silent film to be the finest depiction of chess passion I’ve ever encountered. Note the word “passion.” Instead of looking at the game as an intellectual exercise, which most renditions tend to push, this movie shows its addictive nature, and the passion that it imparts to those of us that love it.

CHESS FEVER is a comedy about a man who, though soon to be married, already has a mistress – chess. His bride-to-be, knowing nothing of the game but seeing that his heart resides on the sixty-four squares of the chessboard, freaks out and storms onto the snow-covered streets in hysteria.

The poor women – already over the edge – sees chess everywhere: on billboards, on the streets, and even played in an apothecary where she seeks poison so she can end the nightmare. What she doesn’t know is that a now famous tournament (Moscow 1925) is being held just blocks away.

Suffice it to say that Capablanca (yes, the real Capablanca!) saves the day, and film footage of Marshall, Torre, Reti and other legends makes this a must own for any true fan of chess.

It’s important to note that much of this classic film’s success can be attributed to the director, Vsevolod Pudovkin (1893 to 1953). Known as one of the greatest artists of Soviet silent films (French critic Léon Moussinac said: “Pudovkin’s films resemble a song, Eisenstein’s a scream.”), his movies and his writings (FILM TECHNIQUE combines his two books on film theory into one volume) continue to be studied in film classes worldwide.

Whether you’re a student of film history, or simply a man or woman in love with the mysteries and depths that make up chess, you’re in for a treat. Buy CHESS FEVER, or rent it, but do watch it!

Kramnik to play in Mexican World Championship

chessbase.com is reporting..

Kramnik to play in Mexican World Championship
14.12.2006 It was not a foregone conclusion but up for debate: would Vladimir Kramnik, who had just won the reunification tournament in Elista, really be willing to put his title up for grabs just ten months later in an eight-player tournament? Yes he is, as we learn from FIDE President Kirsan Ilyumzhinov in this breaking news story.


a game of kings

nice piece from the "henry daily herald online" in northern georgia.. captures the spirt of those who learned to play with their fathers.. kudos to mr silliman..

A game of kings

My dad bought the set in Mexico, I think. He gave it to my uncle on Christmas and after they had assembled all the bicycles, opened all the over-packaged toys and added batteries where they weren’t included, my dad and his brother sat down to play.

The board was green, with squares of dark green stone flecked with white spots and opposite squares of white stone with green flecks. The pieces were onyx — a word I had trouble saying and tried to say two or three times before I was told onyx was just a type of rock — and I couldn’t see any way to tell one piece from another, how the different pieces moved, or what was the object of the game.

My six younger brothers, later, were always first fascinated by the pieces of a chess game. They like the horses and the castles, the kings and the bishops and the pawns which always got called “little men.” When I first saw the game I saw none of those things and I didn’t know to ask to play with the pieces that were killed and lined up off the side of the board.

The thing that captured my imagination was the picture of these two men, brothers, intensely staring at a board, looking and looking like there was something to see even though obviously there were only 34 pieces on a small square board, and then carefully, slowly, moving a hand to pick up a piece and move it.

My father, when he moves a piece, moves slowly. He holds his hand on the top and lifts his arm to look at the board again, double checking.

My uncle looks longer, waits another second, and then takes a piece from the side, the piece my dad was looking for and didn’t see, and picks it up and moves it into the center and kills my dad’s thing.

My uncle plays to the center, trying for control of the middle of the board. My dad plays to the sides, always trying to work a combination into the weaker edges and move from the edges inward, eating away at the pieces.

We played a lot of games, when me and my brothers and sister were little. We played board games and ball games, real games and made-up games and games with the rules changed around. Of all of those, though, it’s chess that really captured me and which I most remember playing with my family in those all-day unstructured tournaments we called Saturday.

My oldest brother and I learned to play at about the same time, learning the way the pieces moved and being befuddled by the way dad would always waste our checkerboard armies. We learned the way the pieces worked together, in combinations, and would watch, frustrated, while he moved behind our lines, holding a finger on a piece to look around, and saying slowly, “Checkmate.”

We learned, finally, theory — how to evaluate the board and plan an attack and calculate the strength of a position and we watched (finally!) while dad’s side of the board crumbled under our attacks and his king would be pushed into a losing corner.

I loved those days and those games and I’m only slightly joking when I say that when I retire I want to move to a city park and play chess all day.

They call it the game of kings. It’s just a game and I’m just an amateur, but it’s a great complication of 34 pieces on an eight-by-eight checkered board.

I spoke to my dad on the phone the other day. We were just talking, like we do, and he started laughing.

“Hey,” he said, “guess what your youngest brother’s doing?”


“He’s on the Internet. Playing chess. He’s only four, but apparently he’s playing online.”

“Tell him,” I said, “to take control of the center of the board.”

Daniel Silliman is the crime reporter for the Clayton News Daily. His column appears on Thursdays. He can be reached at 770-478-5753 ext. 254 or via e-mail at dsilliman@news-daily.com


Milk, it does the body good

Kortchnoi must be thinking: "I defected for this!?!"


Seize the moment: a FIAT ad with chess players.

A very funny FIAT ad, with Chess as a main subject.
The ad slogan "Seize the moment" is applied by a chess player about to be checkmated, in a very surprising and funny way.

why i laugh?

we all had a laugh at kramnik's expense.. karma is a bitch!! i am white, its my move.. now i have been experimenting with the versov opening: 1. d4, 2. Nf3, 3. Bg5.. this game went as follows 1. d4 Nc6, 2. Nc3 e5.. instead of bringing up the bishop i went 3. Nf3 Bd6... guess what i did next.. i could have had his queen (Bg5, he either captures the bishop and Nf3 takes it, or the queen sits and the bishop takes it) but nooooooooo i say he let me control the center and move my pawn e4.. what a putz i am.. a real patzer..