Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Monday, December 5, 2011

2011 Winter Tournament

Santa Claus kicks off the Winter Tournament
Sleigh bells were jingling as eleven Blaine County School District students competed in the Winter Tournament.  It appears that our little tournament was also in competition with the numerous activities and holiday warm ups as many of our usual chess suspects were not available.  Despite the chilly turn out, the Winter Tournament attracted Santa Claus and some very interesting games.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Master Description

Kurt Vonnegut's review of a chess book, "Grandmaster's of Chess," by Harold Schonberg.  Mr. Vonnegut elegantly describes chess folk:

"This charming history of modern chess will not be surpassed in our time....Mr. Schonberg has given us a playful,musical,haunting account of huge,often irresponsible,unsociable animals who have devoted their lives to thinking that is pure as snow" - Kurt Vonnegut

Monday, November 28, 2011

New Classroom Website Announced

Yo, Desmond had the household Skyrim tied up most of the weekend . . . so I revamped, rethought, and reinvented my classroom website.  My students really liked the new look and the better perks.  I fashioned  an icon system for faster navigation (like the smart phone aps), stream-lined each page for faster loading, and created a much better course organization.  Let me know what you think.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Chess Rage Newsletter Resurrection

Using my level 10 Resurrection spell from Skyrim, I was able to conjure up a newsletter that I used to produce.  It was killed when I began putting all my websites together back in 2008 and I am now going to commit myself, my class, and my club to publishing again.  I will make the newsletters available at our club website in PDF format as it is a pain to do in blogger.  Here is our first official edition of the year to be released Monday at school.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Memory Chess and Exercising a Cognitive Skills

I read an article about Susan Polgar once and I remember reading that she can look at a chess board for 10 seconds and replicate where up to 32 pieces were on the board with nearly 100% accuracy.  Or, some such

Sunday, November 20, 2011

5 Steps to Chess Viewer Deluxe

I discovered that Chess Viewer Deluxe opened much faster without any "Kill" page message from chrome when I created a whole new sister blog to The Chess Nut Blog.  This blog page now opens faster than it did before.  If I get rid of all the widgets, I bet this blog would be even faster, but it would lose its appeal.  I called the new sister site,  Chess Nut Games and it will house the game files so that you can view multiple games from each year.  Of course I posted a link to the Chess Nut Game blog from the home page of The Chess Nut Blog called Games.  You can spot this tab or button in the upper right side of the page menu.    Here are some other quirks that I did my best to work out in 5 steps.

Why is this cool?  Because you can display multiple games without using someone else's server to store game data, and it looks rather nice with an easy-to-use interface.  Flash PGN viewers (that I have found) only show one game at a time.  My favorite Flash viewer being ChessFlash PGN Viewer.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Blog Anchors and Internal Links

This is some documentation so I can remember how to create an internal link (a jump from one spot on a page to another spot on the page.  The example I provide is from the States page where I jump from the "N" to "Nebraska."

Here is the code where I want to jump to:
First, you should create the document and decide where you want your internal links to go. You label these using the anchor tag (a) with the name and id attributes. The name and id attributes should be identical.

e.g. <a name="anchor1" id="anchor1">Anchor text</a>

Here is the code where I want to jump from:
Then second, you create the link to the site using the anchor tag (a) and the href attribute. You indicate the named area with a pound-sign (#). 

e.g. <a href="site.html#anchor1">Anchor link</a>

The important thing is that href= (enter the page URL you want to create a jump).

(no spaces) Also, to write an example of code in a blogger post without it being interpreted use these instructions:
Replace all the < characters with  & l t;(no spaces) 
And all the > characters with & g t;(no spaces) 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Creepy Rooms and Monkey Chess at SIO

Jeff v. Caleb in an intense game with draw offers on the table.
The Southern Idaho Open 2011 was as entertaining as it was competitive on Saturday, November 12.     Desmond, me and two other Wood River Valley residents attended the one day, 4 Round G/60 event.  Des, Riley and I were slated for the U1400 Reserve Section, but Nick Bruck wanted to play in the Open Section.  I won 1st place (3.5 pts.) and my son, Des, won 2nd place (3.0 pts.).  Cash prizes were for placements while chess books from the library of the late Glen Buckendorf, 10-time Idaho State Champion, were donated to 3rd and 4th places for each section.

Brooklyn Castle

from IS 318 website
The Outreach Director of the documentary, Brooklyn Castle, contacted me about their project.  It was originally called Chess Movie, and it is about the IS 318 Chess Team.  Elizabeth Vicary and other scholastic chess celebrities organize and help run the chess club that is made up of junior high school students.  Ms. Vicary runs a blog that updates the world about politics, personal happenings, and the successes of the IS 318 Chess Team.  Now, the successes have attracted the attention of movie makers.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Support Veterans

Every year our high school chess club collects signatures and words of support for our troops abroad and we send our prayers along with chess boards.  Please think of everyone's veterans and soldiers around the world and pray that battles could be carried out on the chess board instead of with real bullets.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Idaho Chess Icon passes away

Glen W. Buckendorf
June 19, 1929 - September 12, 2011
Glen W. Buckendorf will be missed at chess tournaments and by his family and friends.  Glen passed away on September 12, 2011 at the age of 82 in his home.  Glen was a celebrity of sorts in the Idaho Chess community and was a tournament standard at the Idaho Closed for nearly 54 years!  In 2010, Glen was awarded lifelong supporter and Emeritus Trustee of the ICA (Idaho Chess Association).  He was 10 Idaho State Champion and was a contemporary of Dick Vandenberg, who recently passed away in 2010.  Without Glen's and Dick's avid support and efforts to enhance Idaho Chess, it would hardly be what it is today.  (Click here for the Times-News link).

Building websites is enjoyable

I made some nice changes to the WRHS Chess Club website.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Integrating a Simul into Integrating Chess

Olivia records a move
Austin likes his new opening repertoires
Playing chess seventh period every day is a great way to end the day.  The Integrating Chess and Critical Thinking Class is one of the most unique classes at Wood River High School and a popular one among the students that signed up.  For the students that were placed in the class by counselors searching for an open class, it was certainly an eye-opening experience.  One such student said,"I didn't realize there was so much [about chess]."  Another said that he can now "demolish" his brother.  Most of the students in this class are new to the game, but their are some veterans of chess club that I use to help teach concepts.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween (Gambit)!

It's Halloween Knight!

The Halloween Gambit,  or Leipzig Gambit, is an aggressive gambit in chess, in which White sacrifices a knight for just one pawn.  There are many different kinds  of gambits, but the usual aim of a gambit is to obtain an advantageous position after giving up material as white.   This gambit is related to the Four Knights Game and may transpose easily if your opponent is not cooperative. It was proven in 1888 to be an unsound opening meaning that you should not use it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

WRHS Chess Club Beginning!

Chess Club Starts tomorrow, afterschool, room c214, and every Thursday!
         Everyone at school is excited for Chess Club to begin.  Since soccer coaching ended for me on Monday at WRMS, I guess its now chess season for the rest of the year.  I in fact coached two teams, the WRMS and a 1st grade Blaine County Recreation team.  Both were over-loaded teams.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sorry, I have been off the grid for a bit.  Only one more week of soccer and then the articles I have been sitting on will be posted.  Thanks for your patience.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Armenia's Gambit or gamble?

Chess is now a compulsory subject in all Armenian schools, including the secondary level (see also News.am).  This is great news as many studies have shown how chess can improve all areas of study for students that regularly engage in chess activities.  It appears the Ministry of Education is pledging $1.5 million for textbooks and manuals, equipment such as boards and portable tables, and even salaries for chess teachers.  The ministry indicates that chess will "foster schoolchildren's intellectual development" and improve children's critical thinking skills.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Idaho History: Western Idaho Open

courtesy of:  Jeff Roland, ICA Trustee for Web Development and Maintenance

If you read the article on the 1964 Western Idaho Open (shown below), the organizers of the day were very excited about the “large turnout” of 19 players! Last year, we had 27 players at the 2010 WIO, and I plan to really promote this year’s event even better. At the PCC Centennial Open in Portland a couple weeks ago, I actually asked several players, a couple of them masters, if they would come, and they seemed positively inclined, especially as they are excited about Idaho joining Northwest Chess. And I am planning to get our ad in Northwest Chess. However, the weather will probably be the biggest hurdle. It is hard to get over those Blue Mountains!!! However, not impossible for the chess fanatic! It is ironic that the time of year most conducive to indoor activities like chess also makes it difficult to travel to play in them!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Making Chess More Popular Among High School Students

As we start a new school year, it might behoove the first spirit assemblies to not only celebrate athletes, but also recognize the chess clubbers.  At our school, the assembly organizers include the chess club in their program and from feedback from the kids in the program, the appreciation and recognition is welcomed.  I find that the school climate and culture is better toward chess club news and interest is also generated in the club.  In fact, some schools have even replicated the Saturday Night Live skit.  But, I wonder if the YouTube videos that were uploaded by schools are furthering the stigma of chess or providing a bit of tongue-and-cheek humor that hard-working chess club kids enjoy?  This year, I do plan on bringing our cheerleaders into a scholastic tournament at the start to rev up the fun.  Maybe I will even ask them to perform the SNL skit to the ICA Wood River Progressive tournament this October?  

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Class of 1986

On the way to my 25th Class Reunion

"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."
—Bilbo's speech at his birthday party

What the heck does this mean?  Tolkien was a genius to cipher this quote and I should have said it at my reunion just to trip some people out.  

25th Reunion of Class of 1986

My Old Digs
I have never been back for a reunion and seldomly visit Wisconsin due to all of my family's activities  and the gorgeous place in which I live here in Idaho.  Who'd vacation anywhere else?  However, I had a great time at my 25th Class Reunion in Columbus, Wisconsin this past week.  Of the twenty-eight that showed up, none were my close high school friends, but I soon discovered that my classmates were friends, indeed.  Reacquainting yourself with folks that knew you growing up during the horrors, trials and tribulations puberty is an experience meant for the meek and the proud.  Kids that were mean to me and I despised in my youth, and vice versa turned out downright friendly and a pleasure to be around.  And we were out until 4 am!  When growing up for 12 years with the same kids in your classes, at lunch, on the play ground, and in evening sports, I suppose they are like family members, as you spent almost as much time with them as your true family.   A real family will weather  the storms and bask in the sunlight - altruism at its finest!  

I was apprehensive to meet school mates for the first time since graduation in 1986 and feared recognizing and remembering names.  Maybe iphones should be equipped with face recognition aps?  Too bad I only carry a basic phone.  I should have consulted and studied my yearbook before attending, but I was delighted to know most of the ladies and many of the guys.  I found it more difficult to recognize the males, however.  Whether you were female or male, the smiles were exactly the same among all the increased mass and decreased hair and that sincerely tapped the nerve cells storing that information - I would blurt out the correct name (name tags were helpful too).

The Ladies

The Guys

Surprisingly, some classmates were still enjoying the same enterprises like hunting, trapping, drinking or even coaching the same sport they excelled in.  My chess passion was already known among facebookers and I was thrilled to notice enthusiasm in their tone.  I remember forming a chess club at our high school with a group of friends.  We only played a handful of games during the entire four years and used it mostly as an excuse for field trips to the Field Museum in Chicago and the Milwaukee Public Museum.

After renewing my old friendships and regaining some new ones, the reunion organizers and myself decided to embark on a class website.  So, I built it this week for my class mates and I hope that my friends were not so, just for the night, and contribute to our "family" history website.  

WRHS Website Updated

As I get ready for school, my numerous websites need updating.  The WRHS Website is updated.
The beauty of a move lies not in its appearance but in the thought behind it.  - Aaron Nimzowitsch

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tournament Calendar is Updated

There are many great tournaments in the area that are posted at the Tournament tab.  Start making plans and saving money so you can attend these fun events!  If you are aware of any other tournaments that folks might be interested in attending, please comment and I will update the calendar.
Skittles Room, National High School Championship, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Idaho Scholastic Player News: Round 4

     Get your pom-poms out and start chanting I-D-A-H-O (or at least mouth it if you are at the tournament!).  Savanna Nacarrato, of Sandpoint, Idaho is enjoying her visit to the 2011 Susan Polgar Girls' Invitational which is hosting 46  participants from around the country.  [She currently has 2.0 points and is paired with Annastasia Wyzywany in round 3 (post: Wed., July 27.]  [Savanna won her game against Ms. Wyzywany, a class A player from Louisiana, and is now entering round 4 with 3.0 points and a pairing with Mandy Lu of Michigan.  She is tied with four other girls and Idahoans are all pulling for her with three rounds left to play!(post:  Thurs., July 28)]  [Results were released for Round 4 and 5 which were tougher for her.  Savanna was paired with Maggie Fen in round 5, but still has a chance to improve her standings in the final round.  She is currently in 9th place and is paired with Joy Chen for round 6 - each with 3.0 points.  The sole leader, Apurva Virkud has 5.0 points.  We are very proud of Savanna's efforts and representation.(post: Thurs., July 28)]  The tournament finished today and Savanna won her last game for a total of 4.0 pts. and a 9th placement.  This was a job well done and I do believe her first experience competing at this level of play.  As she is a ninth grader, we look forward to seeing more of Savanna representing Idaho, her family, and herself at other prestigious events.  Good luck, Savanna!
Savanna is on left
     The Susan Polgar Girls' Invitational combines chess instruction and a 6-round scholastic girl's championship.  This year, there are over $120,000 in college scholarships and other prizes donated by Texas Tech University and the Susan Polgar Foundation.  In order to participate, players are primarily selected from state scholastic girls championships, but may be selected as the highest rated scholastic girl in a state without a championship tournament.  From the pictures I have seen, it sure looks like fun,  and  I hope my daughter will be lucky enough to participate someday. (photos from Susan Polgar Chess Daily News)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Chess Projects

I have written chapters 1- 4 in the high school textbook I am writing.  It appears that there will be at least nine chapters by the end of it all (but, maybe more if I can bust them all out in a month!).  I think I have a very solid start with an interdisciplinary approach that includes history, geography, literature, arts, and mathematics.  And I have included an approach that might prove useful to some:  scientific thinking.  The idea might not produce any grand masters, but it is sure to exercise the brain and more formally include logic in chess thinking and analysis for teenage beginner's.  Here is a list of the chapter title's:
1.  Let's Play Chess
2.  Boardom
3.  Notation is Floatation
4.  Even a Pawn Must Hold a Grudge

Tigran Petrosian is from Armenia
My next project I am embarking on might prove useful for my textbook.  The plan is to obtain chess data from the world and correlate it with several geographical and social factors.   The idea came to me while reading an article about Armenia winning the World Team Championships this past week that was held in China.  I began looking up information on Armenia and discovered they have more grand master's per capita than any other country.  I discovered that Idaho is 65% larger than Aremenia but has only half the population.  I don't think we have one grand master residing in our borders!  I will post some preliminary information just before school begins at the end of August.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Need some "Pawn Chains"

Attention readers or transients!  I need a good "pawn chain" game that sets up a successful pawn chain.  I also need a game demonstrating how to attack the base of a pawn chain.  Here are two that I found but I am looking for better.

Maroczy - Barmen Shuchting, 1905

Petrosian vs. Lilienthal, 1949

Monday, July 11, 2011

2011 Summer Classic Rounds 4-5: Tales from the Reserve Section

95 years of separation.
One of the greatest things about chess is the interaction of different generations and and age classes.  It became apparent to me when I was looking at the variety of players in the Summer Classic Tournament.  There is an age span of 95 years displayed in the group photograph!  Nearly a century of separation between the youngest and oldest players.  This offers chess tournaments and organizers challenges, and requires patience and toleration of the players.

Breathing in surround sound
Tournament etiquette can sometimes be turned upside down by the various players and the Tournament Directors have to straddle a fence to preserve the fun for some participants and the seriousness for others.  During my round 4 game against Gary Hollingsworth (see rounds 1-3), I noticed an elderly gentlemen's breathing pattern in another game across the room.  As I struggled to maintain focus, the rhythmic breathing began to sound like Darth Vader in surround sound.  Definitely something you can't and shouldn't complain about.   A bit later, another gentlemen always brings munchies that he will tear into about an hour into the game.  Riiipp!  The crunching sound of the grocery bag and the wrappers then become sporadic as the munching sounds now echoed across the small room.

With such a variety of persona, it is easy to spot the loud families.  Some people are unable to whisper (especially kids, with their robust diaphragms!) and yet others speak loudly because they can't hear so well (the older crowd).  The one good thing about bad hearing is that you can turn your hearing aide off when playing in a tournament.  There will always be occasional voices when there is a blunder.  And, everyone in the room will crane their head to see what happened.
This is why some people insist on listening to music during tournament play.  This tends to be at the Tournament Director's discretion.  In Idaho, some allow it and some don't.  Sometimes players can ruin the privileges for others as one man listened to a symphony that I could "sing along" to.  I prefer Deadmau5, but invariably, I model good behavior and refrain from the zune (microsoft's ipod).
Some players like to listen to music while they play (more to drown out other distractions  than anything else).

With the youngsters playing and learning etiquette (I like the "brush your teeth rule"), toleration can be very difficult.  It is clear to me when a child is more concerned about his rating than the actual game he is playing by what they say (and how often they say it).  One little guy will always offer a draw (draw etiquette link)  in the quality of voice that is like whispering in a megaphone every time his game takes a bad turn.  It was cute when the little boy offered a draw when Kevin Patterson went a piece up, but every turn after that?  He began to beg for a draw.  I had to restrain myself from turning around and saying "resign or play your game!"  This is one of the scholastic drawbacks - rating fever.  Kevin was a good sport.
Gary from Pokey
Here is my round 4 game against Gary Hollingsworth.  There is a Draw lesson in this game.  I accepted the draw offer by Gary after 15 minutes of consideration.  Fritz gave me a slight advantage, but I was a little too concerned about the h-file pawn to continue play and I would have to prove my bishop was worth his huge pawn majority.  Plus, Gary and Jamie (each with 3.0 pts. as well) both had easier pairings going into round 5 than I was to have.

Unfortunately, I had to sit next to the same boy while Jamie Lang had a go.  While looking at the pairing sheets, I told Jamie to please win quickly.  Jamie won a piece and the draw offers commenced but the little guy seemed to have Vaseline on his king and the game continued longer than I hoped.  He was getting bored and made a pyramid out of the pawns he had taken from Jamie and then knocked them over onto the table.  I finally said something when he was holding onto the table so he could rock better in his chair while shaking his Pepsi.  Our table shimmied and I began to feel like I was playing on a boat!  Thankfully, my round 5 game was not affected by all the distractions offered and I played the shortest tournament game (seven moves!) against Kevin Patterson and I tied for 1st place with 4.0 points.  E4 G4 is not an opening I am likely to play!
Chess is a spectator sport as Kevin watches his daughter Emily play.
In these cases, someone should not have to complain.  Players should know better and TDs should also be cognizant of the playing environment for everyone in the room.  But, in the end, as chess players ultimately know, tournaments are a test of patience and comfort level.  If each tournament pair played their game in an isolated, sound proof room, I probably wouldn't go to tournaments.  Nor would anyone else.  The pleasure is derived from being around a large group of chess enthusiasts from different ages and diverse lifestyles.  Being able to look into their sympathetic eyes when there is a disturbance, smile, and move your game forward with unsaid camaraderie and the knowledge that someday it was you or someday it will be you creating the ruckus.
Idaho chess hero, Glen Buckendorf

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Integrating Chess and Critical Thinking

I was holding off the news of a new class at Wood River High School:  Integrating Chess and Critical Thinking.  I do believe this is the first elective credit class of its kind at the high school level in the United States.  It has taken me over five years of discussion and three administrators to convince them that this will be a great class that students want to take.   My new principal, Peter Jurovich, allowed me much longer than two minutes to present my ideas and justifications, unlike predecessors - and he didn't even laugh!  Students will be able to learn about chess, the history of chess, the art and science of chess, develop their skills, and learn to think more critically in an interdisciplinary manner.

Our school is redesigning its curriculum, school day, and many other areas in order to better serve kids.  We are adopting the IB MYP program, Project Based Learning, and rethinking homework policies.   This class will be a perfect match for those programs.  I thought this was also a perfect time to propose a new chess class and typed a seven page proposal for the academic council in order to sell my idea.  There are currently over 30 kids signed up for the course which will be offered all year, this next year.  Students are able to take it as a nine week class for half a credit or a full semester.  Plus, they are able to sign up multiple times as the class is designed so students can enter the class at any point.

If this sounds like fluff, it certainly isn't going to be an "easy A."  I have identified twenty-eight state standards that this class will address or reinforce in language arts, world history, mathematics, government, science, and US History.  I think this will also be an excellent opportunity to pre-post-test students on the state standardized tests to determine the benefits of playing chess on a weekly, if not daily basis.

I have selected software (Think Like a King, Fritz, and Chessmaster 10000), internet servers (Gameknot and Chess.com), various work books (Square One, Teaching Chess, Chess Tactics, Susan Polgar's curriculum), Tips for Young Players (Sadler 1999) as a text,  and I am writing my own textbook that I can use for the unique curriculum and exercises that I put together.  Chapter 1 is nearly complete.  I really want to create an appreciation for the game and the culture, as well.

If any donor would like a tax deduction, please help us by financially donating so I can purchase some workbook and textbook resources.  c/o Adam Porth, WRHS, 1250 Fox Acres Road, Hailey, Idaho 83333.

I have the course broken down into these sections:
  • understanding the game of chess
  • playing chess
  • tactics
  • strategies
  • analyzing chess games
  • understanding chess organizations
  • history
  • art
  • science and math
  • biographies
  • journalism
  • creating a chess video of an analysis or an opening
  • chess variants
The goal is not to breed mini-Bobby Fishers or produce grandmasters.  But, I hope to develop, extend, and expand the processing of  information, exercise critical thinking skills in an environment that kids want to be in, and to instill a passion for the game and culture of chess.  Too much of our society falsely prescribes chess playing to either geeks, geniuses, or grandpas, and I believe that an interdisciplinary approach will attract the most interest in chess playing.  You could spend an entire year just working on chess skills, and I believe that students will be more apt to fall in love with the game when they start exploring the culture of chess, as I have.  Stay tuned for successes and failures from the classroom!

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