Sunday, June 06, 2010

Chess 960

If you have not tried Chess960--aka Fischer Random Chess--then you are missing out.  Chess960 randomizes the starting piece layout, but otherwise castling and all the normal rules of chess clearly apply.  Both ICC and chessCube offer it, the prior in the aforementioned 'pool' (pairs players automatically, disallowing players choosing opposition, that is to say, avoiding upper or lower rated players).

It forces the issue on positional assessment early on, and sharpens tactics, marginalizing the inescapable and ever present rubric of openings and opening tabiya's.  Wow.  Very strong medicine.

I just spent a night playing, and at 1300 to 1400 960 rated, 80% of my opposition were dudes with 2000 blitz, bullet, and 5 0 ratings alike... its like 'chess dying'. 5 wins, 16 loses 1 draw= 21.  Jesus fu_ck.  Try it out.  Its like a chess final exam.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

To Be Really Powerfull

To be really powerful, love what you have.  To know but one good rook ending, or twenty, not 1,000, not buying ten ending books--what a concept!  To sit in your own galoshes.

Maybe even read a trashy old endgame book till the binding disintegrates, surpassed by nineteen new slick endgame books by Gambit or Batesford or DVD's by chessBase, or chessCafe's Russell Enterprises.  Yes, all fantastic.  But I say the search is over.  Work with what you have--but I say, 'Please Lord, let me finally do some REAL work'.

Shinryu Suzuki in his classic Zen Mind, Beginners Mind described it well: To paint a bamboo, become a bamboo. It takes great skill to grasp totalities simply; to be really simple, it takes an act of much sophistication cultivated by great reduction. 

Let us use what we have, not run and get more.  More what?  Distraction as Blaise Pascal called it.  

Years ago, I set out with great infatuation to collect chess classic games.  I did so.  First 350, then 932, then compiling 1,500+ of the certifiably agreed upon greatest, most stunning, exemplary chess games EVER played, till I gushed out all over the place at as many as 5,020, my current mushroomed, swelling collection.  

When it was carefully firm at 932 games, I had viewed or studied each and every one of them.  But after 1.5K, I lost my way.  More is less.  Become bamboo, don't run and buy ten bamboo photo albums.  Be a bamboo.  A single bamboo.

Worth a Damn

Sometimes a poet might wish to be able to write ONE GOOD LINE of poetry before they die.  Me? I have figured out chess:

If I could but understand and learn R vs. R & P endings before I die, I might ACTUALLY be potentially decent at chess--able to ALMOST play acceptable chess!  It's just that easy.