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Archive for August, 2011

Start of the Chess Season

The next months will be more chess intensive and to get in the right mood, Farbror has announced the goals of the Three Musketeers (among them yours truly). It’s nothing new but a nice way to keep up the motivation and to add some steadiness to our study.

Getting long games is no problem, there will be at least 4 of them as part of the Team4545League starting with two White games in round 4. I spent a lot of time with my new weapon 1. b3 so it might be worth trying it out. After my poor performance last season I am a little bit the underdog with no pressure whatsoever.

I am currently looking at old master games, the last two were played by Morphy. In the following position there was a nice forcing sequence that even leads to mate:

Position after 15. Qb1

It’s interesting to compare with which piece to capture the knight on e2. 15…Nxe2 would free the d4 square for the queen but after that the attack is stalled. 15…Bxe2 allows to bring in the second knight and Black’s advantage is overwhelming. The whole sequence leads to the following position where I looked hard but missed the mate in 3:

Black to move after 21. Kh4

Morphy as we know and love him! You can replay the whole game here.

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And the winners of the Hugo 2011 are…

What a disappointment this year, you can find the winners here. It’s not a big surprise that Connie Willis won the award for best novel but people are seriously talking about the worst books ever that got it and Willis easily makes it into the top 5.

The other sections aren’t much better. I didn’t like The Lifecycle of Software Objects, found the name dropping in The Emperor of the Mars annoying and stopped reading For want of a nail after a couple of awful pages.

Looking back at the last years, there were usually 2 out of 5 nominees that I enjoyed, and often they didn’t win. Some time ago I have started to read the best short stories of the genre and used best-of lists and awards as a guideline. Instead of focussing on the winners I should change my strategy and include the nominees as well. A great resource are the posts from Jo Walton on tor.com and the comments from the readers.

If you are interested, take a look atΒ  my take on the SF stories until 1999. The page is still work-in-progress but feel free to leave your comments.

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Lazy time is over

Welcome back, dear readers. I had a nice vacation and enjoyed the brilliant weather. Nevertheless, now it’s time to get back into study mode to prepare for the OTB chess season, which will start in October. My chess buddy farbror initiated a movement to set new goals for the next two months. For me it’s rather simple this time:

  • analyze at least 10 master games (Guess-the-Move style)
  • don’t play Blitz or 5min games, minimum time control is 15min

The last point was necessary to stop myself from wasting time by playing too much Blitz. It’s fun but you don’t learn anything new – and you get lazy. Instead of using your brain and doing some hard work you switch to auto-mode and just push wood.

I stumbled upon a new website: WhyChess.com. It has a lot of material although I am not sure how useful it will be to me. The coverage of the World Cup is great though. Houdini is used to provide evaluations and it’s fascinating to watch the games this way. You can quickly jump to a game with some action. Grischuk for instance spotted a nice shot in his game:

White to move after 20...Kh8

21. Bf6! wins immediately and IM Genba resigned two moves later. A pattern worth remembering!

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Entertainment time

When you have two small kids you do not have much time for your own hobbies or activities. Going out late at night requires careful planning and a reliable babysitter. During summer it’s different; the grandparents are happy to spend some time with them and this makes things like going to the cinema much easier – and this is what I did with my wife last week.

Harry Potter 7.2

We started with the long awaited final part of the Harry Potter series. A satisfying end and I am motivated to pick up the books. So far I have only read the first part, which was okay but too much of a young adult novel and I didn’t feel the desire to read the other books until now.

Miss Saigon

Next we saw an absolutely amazing performance of Miss Saigon in our local theater. I had shivers running up and down my spine in this very dramatic and emotional musical. The singing and acting was brilliant! I listened to the CD with the original London cast afterwards on my mp3 player and was at first disappointed. In comparison to the theater experience it just felt flat, I couldn’t believe it. Back home I put the CD in my hifi system with good loudspeakers and wow, what a difference. πŸ™‚

The 12 Tenors

Sunday night we watched the performance of The 12 Tenors. The ambience was beautiful, an open air concert with the stage near the lake. After 40min light rain started but fortunately it stopped some minutes later. There was something for everyone, from classical pieces to musical to pop and rock.

Super 8

Finally another movie, Super 8. It didn’t blow me away but I liked it although I had the feeling that its pieces didn’t fit together. A strange mix of family drama, first love, horror and science fiction. The retro feeling was nice and I wonder if my kids will ever know what a walkman is.

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Summer time

It’s summer time, it’s warm and the chessboard is far away in a dark corner. This is not the time for chess nor serious study beside a puzzle or two on chesstempo. Instead, in a moment of nostalgia, I picked up a book that was part of my youth. Well, not only the book but the whole serial: Perry Rhodan.

Original serial #1

Silver Edition #1

The serial started 1961 and is still alive today, this week #2607 (!) will be published. If you now think Perry who? you can read this wikipedia article or head over to the great German site perry-rhodan.net.

It’s best describes as fast paced SF action space opera. The silver edition has cool 3d covers and combines 5 to 8 issues in revised an abridged form. That’s the one I am currently reading and it will be interesting to see how good it stood the test of time. Part 1 brought back a lot of old memories and it looks like a great summer. Let’s see how much I can stand of it. πŸ™‚

Next on the reading list:

Silver Edition #2

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