Saturday, July 14, 2012

Twenty-Eight Hundred: Rarified Air

Double Click Images to Enlarge.  You will not be disappointed.  This is like a chess adult movie.  Similarly table below, which has quite a bit more records than shown.

Today at Dortmund with his brilliant win, essayed as Black in a uncharacteristic choice by Kramnik, against Meier, he is back above 2800.  A most selective group, not only at this time, but historically [1].

I have a particular dislike of dry personalities, but Kramnik is an exception.  First, he plays lively chess again.  This has been his pattern for years now.  Bravo.  Second, to get past his sardonic exterior, you need a simple clue.  He said to the affect that he maintains good relations with Lev Aronian, mainly based on exchanging sarcastic humor.

I also dislike sarcasm, but I probably have more of it than I care to admit, certainly in my, at times, more than acerbic writing.  Who can not be outraged at the world?  And you cannot speak it in public, for no one can hear it or wants to, so the web, notably the Blogosphere is the ideal place to do it.  So here, in no small way, particularly at my other blog, Heuristical Personae [2].

[1.] That Carlsen ascent to 2837.0 CANNOT be not quite near equivalent to Kasparov's once having attained an FIDE Elo of 2851 deserves reminding here.  Similarly Fischer's performance rating of 2881 calculated by bio-statistician, cum more than amateur, Jeff Sonas at his enchanting site, cannot compare to Kasparov's. for more details and full list
Ratings have been inflated.  Carlsen in 2012 is off the mark of Kasparov in 1990,  The writer is aware of the many statistical sorts of factors which make Sonas perfectly consistent in his comparisons, linked here, as well as a Juggernaut beyond conception.

Further, Fischer in 1972 was on a stomping path of destruction never seen before, and most unlikely in the future, in the pre-super-prep era he and his colleagues were in, ever to be repeated.  Today, going 13-0 against three of the greatest or near best grandmasters of his day will never happen again.  It is unprecedented.

It is like Jordan taking that last shot in the NBA championships with the flu, Michelangelo at once given the freedom by the Pope to paint the Sistine Chapel ceiling while at once prodding him, goading him, and near torturing him to do.  It is Mozart creating without notes, it is Durer's engravings, it is Eddington proving Einstein right, it is Lance Armstrong's seven wins with the juice or not, it is Michael Jackson live with or without the drugs and gas, its is the Man on the Moon, Homer, Dante, Goethe [4].

[2.] Nietzsche [3] said he correctly:  'The wisest of all ages have all agreed--it is no good'.  While this has indeed always been true, currently this has never been more true.  Larger, more dishonest, more isolated, more toxic, more sorrowful, more privileged, more psychologically dissociated if not fractured, more natural, more buffered, more capitalized, more confused, more angry, more abusive, exploitative.  Oy vey.  Celine or Jacques Ellul Marcuse, Mumfort, Wendel Berry's need to speak. Let us not forget Kafka, oh yes, he's the one [5].

[3.] Karl Jaspers said it best:  'Nietzsche was an obviously deeply disturbed mind, deeply discontent with his ["the"] world ["around him"]'.  Not sure if this was the particular book, but he said it.  Term that comes to mind is 'The axial philosophers'.

[4.] Some duly would not include his work here.  The man was great, not the work.

[5.] Knowing when to stop is a virtue.  dk:  'Can you please repeat that?'   My strength.  My weakness.  Dear lord.

Saturday, July 07, 2012


One thing is for damn sure, if you are going around reading blogs on chess improvement, you probably are not really ready to get better at chess.  And one step further, if you are, as I do, writing chess blogs on chess improvement, guaranteed you are totally distracted from real work at getting better at chess.  Its that simple.

The zen master, screaming, blood curdling scream at the student, grabbing him by the neck, lifting him off the ground, almost hysterical:

"WHO are you?'

If a chess blog has any value in the improvement area, within this activity has to be a clue.

My blog, as any good reader can see, is changing.  And fast.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Learning to Cook Rice Took Me Only Thirty Years. Learning to Play the Slav Defence Has Taken Only...

Hercules Slaying Hydra, as in Greek Myth 'The Heads of Hydra' [1]

I am a self tought chef.  OK.  As you all know, I never tend to exaggerate.  Smiles.

Well, seriously, since I do not do deserts and to be a real chef, you have to be able to do it all, this immediate disqualifies me from being called a chef rather than a self taught practitioner of fine cooking as I like to call the activity, my 'end around' the imprimateur of the term. 

In fact, the average person who enjoys fine food probably does not know that head to head most desert chefs are FAR better at savory dishes than normal so called chefs are at deserts.  In competitions many of the later are actually terrified of deserts, notably pastry, bread, creams, all that art of sugar and flour.

That said, I am a very good cook, completely self taught by lots of experimentation, observation (food TV), and just plain tasting.  So when I tell you that I spent thirty years learning not so much as too cook rice, brown rice, of course, I mean nothing so simple as just doing it, but the hundreds of ways you can--low and slow, presoak, cook then rest then cook in increments, salt before, salt after, no salt, chicken stock, with parmesan cheese.  Add rice wine vinegar at the end, or the same with a light dash of olive oil and organic butter, with carrots or curry or walnuts or oregano.  Shall I go on?   Just imagine the combinations, then thats just ingredients and time frames. 

What does this have to do with the Slav?  Well I am getting to that.  You would not be reading this blog if you didn't like this sort of peripatetic wobbling interspersed with--hopefully--relevancy.  Given my tendency to work fast, prefering one offs without usually going back and editing, I have noticed at times how I will inadvertently type the word slave.  Just imagine.

So now for our real story.

I started playing the Caro-Kahn defence in 2002 and am still finding fairly subtle distinction only as far out as move seven or eight.  And I started playing the Slav in 2005, and as far out as only move five and week by week still finding basic things.  Doing the right thing in openings is not always so easily found.  But I am a great believer that a major chunk of the endeavour is just eliminating major errors or finding a way to usually if not always stear the game towards the sort of positions that one if not enjoys, then at least feels reasonably comfortable in. 

Its not like I have sat here for seven years, for six years, so when I say that I am still fnding basic distinctions, realizing significant aspects about a position, this is quite a statement.  Again, we are not talking long lines of theory of memorized lines, but just seeing and understanding the position.

Then you start to specialize, in my case, the Chebanenko variation, which involves an early ...a6.  This is useful in many lines.  But willy nilly, over time one finds that it doesn not work in all lines, in fact, is to be avoided.  Most used?  Yes.  Knowledge of all cases and exceptions?  Hardly clear!

Its like a moving target.  You can of course drill into that question by, for example asking.  "I am spending hours or half a day on this.  I see it again, and again and again.  Time to stop this!  Where are the exceptions and what are they?"  But then you are NOT working on other things, which you maybe are not as good at or which are seen a lot more often.

[1] From Wiki: "In Greek mythology, the Lernaean Hydra (Greek: Λερναία Ὕδρα (help·info)) was an ancient nameless serpent-like chthonic water beast, with reptilian traits, (as its name evinces) that possessed many heads — the poets mention more heads than the vase-painters could paint, and for each head cut off it grew two more — and poisonous breath so virulent even her tracks were deadly.

  "The Hydra of Lerna was killed by Heracles as the second of his Twelve Labours. Its lair was the lake of Lerna in the Argolid, though archaeology has borne out the myth that the sacred site was older even than the Mycenaean city of Argos since Lerna was the site of the myth of the Danaids. Beneath the waters was an entrance to the Underworld, and the Hydra was its guardian."