Chess Cat

Can an impulsive and forgetful baby boomer learn to think logically by playing chess? Will every game end in a sickening blood bath or will I eventually triumph? We'll just see, won't we.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

On the Hunt for a Chess Club

Thoughts from the Beast Mom : Little Tidbits: "
December 10
Little Tidbits

Claire has a shirt that says “Cutie” on the front in rhinestones. Bryant has decided it says, “Cootie” and keeps tormenting Claire by saying that she has a “cootie” on her shirt. This makes Claire very mad.

Bryant is learning how to play chess. His friend from church taught him how to play chess last week. Bryant asked if he could join a chess club just like his friend. I told him he could inquire at the school office to see if his school has a club. I asked his grandparents if they’d bring the chess set from their house when they come at Christmas. It would be fun to see him play with my dad. "

A chess club! Almost makes me wish I was a sprout again if I could have been in a chess club.

Maybe there are chess clubs for adults. In my small town, I'd be surprised to find one.

Meanwhile some guy is whupping my butt in an online game.

I would like to see a kid play chess with an adult. I never played with my dad. Jigsaw puzzles challenged him so much, he took an age to put in a single piece. Chess would have taken months!

Gourmet Chocolate Chess Set

If you love chocolate and play chess like a barbarian, here's the ideal chess set for you. Now you can eat your opponent's chessmen as you win them.

# Checkmate your tastebuds with this hand-crafted chocolate chess set!
# Chess pieces and chess board are all made of rich, creamy chocolate.
# King measures over 3 inches tall!
# This Chocolate Chess Set is made with 2 pounds, 5 ounces of chocolate.

Two pounds of chocolate means you can win at chess, gloat and bloat. Fun, eh?

Harry Potter Wizard Chess Set = Hot Seller

The MuleTeam

Other than that work is really interesting now at the height of the shopping season. We have such boring stuff... it's amazing that we're selling anything at all. Gift Certificates and all that will always be bought and there are standard selling things we do every year... but yyyAAWWnnn... this is truly a boring year for us. I can't think of year with more boring titles and selection. It's not terrible but it is far from anything that will actually drive business into the store. X-Box or the same bestsellers you can get at Wal-Mart for 40% off or more? We didn't think a Narnia Exclusive Gift Set of some kind wouldn't be a smart thing? What's the hottest seller? The 2 year old (maybe more) bargain priced Harry Potter Wizard Chess Set! Apparently soon to be an out of print collectible, people are buying these up by the car full. No crap. That tells you what kind of product selection we have this year. BORING. There are some cool things, the Calvin and Hobbes complete hardcover gift set and the Alan Lee Sketchbook to name a couple but... over all it rates HHH. (Harbinger of Ho Hum... not Hunter Hearst Helmsley! :-)

Here's a guy who maybe works in a book store. He sees the Harry Potter Wizard Chess Set flying off the shelves. It's cool that it's like a scene from the movie. If this guy's right that it's soon to be out of print collectible, and you want it, you better grab one.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Back to Square One Visualizing

Remember my great plan to practice visualizing the first four moves of a game of chess? For fifteen minutes? It went bust within seconds. Why?

Because I don't even have the opening set up memorized yet. D'oh!

Excuse me while I tighten a few head screws. Will report back on how long it takes to visualize the board and pieces BEFORE anyone moves.

I'll visualize an entire game in my head about the twelfth of never at this rate. Ha!

Chess in deepest Africa!

Per Africam ad astra: Sinterklaas, salary arrears and a rape kit

It's evening as I am writing this, the kids have just been put to bed. We put them through the full Dutch Sinterklaas routine last night, having them put their shoes outside on the terrace, make them sing 'Sinterklaas kapoentje' , add some fodder for Sinterklaas horse etcetera. The guards looked rather amused... In the morning M., T. and R. woke up excited to find real Dutch chocolate Sinterklazen and chocolate euro coins in their shoes (found here in Bangui, in a Lebanese shop! With the logistical problems they have here, one can't help but admire these people; of course they made us pay through the nose for the stuff). Furthermore they all three had books (Harry Potter volume 5 for M., we're all hooked on it), clothes and some further small stuff. A. and I had treated ourselves to a beautiful hand carved chess set. A good occasion to get M. back on chess too, which he had started at his school in Brussels. I'll first have to relearn it myself though.

Interesting. People from Brussels, living in Africa where tensions and malaria must be wrestled with and what do they give themselves for Christmas? A beautiful hand carved chess set no one knows how to play at the moment.

Chess is everywhere!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Knights of the South Bronx

I waited for the movie Knights of the South Bronx for three weeks and it was finally on A&E tonight. Ted Danson fills in as a substitute teacher for fourth graders in the Bronx, thinking it's temporary. That all changes when he teaches the kids chess and they take to it like starving piranhas.

I liked the movie. I'm into underdogs succeeding. There was one part that really lifted my wig a bit. After they got pretty good at chess, he taught the kids, including a kindergartner, to play chess without using a board and pieces. They held a mental picture in their minds of the game and all the moves and where the pieces were at all times.

Those kids did it. I wonder how many centuries it would take for ME to do that! Wonder if I could practice doing that for 15 minutes a day. Sneak it in when I'm doing something else that's totally boring and mind-numbing instead of turning on the TV. There's a thought.

What's the chances I'll actually do that? What would the rewards be? If I could hold an image of the chess board and piece placement in my head and follow the game without messing up, I would be exercising some mighty puny muscles. I would go from the 97-pound weakling (mentally) to Hercules. Why does that appeal to me? Um, perhaps because of the piles of notes I write myself to keep from forgetting my head?

Do I have something utterly boring I have to do tomorrow? Yes! OK, I'll visualize the first four moves of a game. Will I do it? Yes. Can I do it? Hmm...stay tuned.

Can YOU play mental chess like that? If so, can you tell me how the ability to focus or visualize like that has changed your life?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

How To Master Chess

David Seah - Better Living Through New Media : Building a Niche of One: "Building a Niche of One
26th November 2005 03:16 EST :: Filed under Inspiration, Introspection by Dave

I recently read:

Psychologists studying expert and exceptional performance found that it’s not really about talent; it’s about practice. The athletes and chess players we admire have practiced for around 10,000 hours over a span of 10 years. — via DIYPlanner

As I followed the link trails through the article, I was reminded that there are three broad questions I apply over and over again in my day-to-day operation:

* Why do it?
* What to do?
* How to do it?

What’s new about this? I never made the connection between this style of inquiry and how to live, and that this is a way to flip common business wisdom backwards.

What to Do? Just Do!

Starting first with that 10,000 hours of practice: I’d had a similar thought about leveling-up abilities based on a magnitude-of-10 hour scale:

* at 1 hour … you know some basics
* at 10 hours … you have a pretty good grasp of the basics
* at 100 hours … you are fairly expert
* at 1000 hours … you are an experienced expert
* at 10000 hours ... you are a master"

I love this. I can see the truth of this. The author goes on to say he got the idea reading about pilots who track how many of hours of flight time they've logged. More hours equals more experience.

Read the whole piece. It's fascinating.

I spent an hour or so studying basic chess rules and pieces because I'd lost everything I ever knew long ago. Then I came across a site with the record of a game that someone said showed how a David topple a Goliath at chess. I studied every move, tried to imagine what move to make next if it was me.

I was clueless most all the time. But other times what I thought up as a possibility was was happened. How exciting! Other moves took my breath away. I'd forgotten that a piece can shoot across the board and kill you dead.

Why did rediscovering the ruthlessness and cut-throat spirit of chess make me smile? I thought I was more civilized.

I suddenly remembered how my brother went into killer mode when he played chess with me. Oh, how he gloated when he won. Oh, how he threw a tantrum when he lost. I don't want to go there again.

The David/Goliath game ended abruptly, and because of my groping inexperience, for me it didn't quite end at all. Who won? I couldn't figure it out! D'oh!

So...practice, practice, practice.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


Can a person be taught to think logically through learning chess? More specifically, how about a baby boomer who has to write everything down in order to remember the simplest things? Yow.

Apparently I should have written down the rules because I just played my first game in years--online against a computer--and it whipped my butt good.

Is it possible for me to ever whip the computer's butt? Stay tuned and we'll see.

What about you? Has learning chess smartened you up some? I'd love to know. Please introduce yourself in the comments.