Chess Non Thinking Endgame

These type of games are known to turn around and bite me. When I get bit, I am they bit hard. Here is the normal game flow. I start out making good opening moves, and am able (or so it seems) to enforce my will on my opponent.

I start out cautiously. Playing my opening with respect to what my enemy is doing. Making small adjustments as I can to better my position. Finally, I complete my opening (more or less). Looking over the battlefield there is a pawn or two and perhaps a minor piece I can capture.

I pick up one or maybe two of the pieces and then it starts. Suddenly,  I sense victory in the making as the middle game has barely begun. I am ready to rumble. Bring it on!

Bloodlust sets in! I am enamored with hacking and slashing, moving around the board, showing off my vastly superior chess skills. I am laying the battlefield to waste. I am holding back on the end game, wanting to  really crush the enemy King, savoring the slaughter.

In the moment, I also forget that there are two players on the board. Both wanting the same end point for their game. I am overly consumed with my brilliant play of power and control. I am undisputed in this game. The enmy is probably wondering where they went wrong?

Then I hear, a loud boom, followed with a bang and a crash. How in the world did that just happen? I didn’t see that Bishop/Knight hovering over on my side of the board! Sitting there in the shadows waiting for the moment to strike! That dirty dog, just waiting for this moment to stab my queen in the heart! Hauling her away by one heel!  Nothing is more devastating than to be brought back to mortality by losing my Queen because I am consumed with blood and killing, owning the game.

Well it’s not the end of the world even though reality sets in, and I am really hurting in the moment. Sometime I can eek out a draw. All to often however, losing my Queen balances the game out, and my weaker tactics and game skills shine through.

As you look at the picture, you will see in the heat of battle, I fall prey to something even more silly. As I finish my opening, I have my King all safe and snug, well protected. To quench my base thirst, I start pulling pieces away to rampage across the other end of the board.

An obvious weak point in both players games

An obvious weak point in both players games

Now, I see mate in three or four moves, if I move quickly and decisively. Here I go, sending my warriors en masse for the final victory. I am a move away from being the supreme commander on the battlefield. Then it happens. In my glory, I had spotted a checkmate in three or four moves.

That underhanded enemy battlefield commander on the other side of the board spotted a come from behind, crushing defeat of his arch rival in one move less! With aplomb a Rook is sent down to the first rank. What?! How in the world did that happen? I own this game, I am crushing the board. How could you do that to me?!

Too late for reflection, as my King is hauled away to be quartered. I know exactly what happened. Instead of looking for potential captures, checks, and checkmates against me, my head is on the other side of the board. Patting myself on the back for creating such devastation. Installing fear, and slipping around in the blood of victory.

At some undetermined point in the game, I go from carefully thinking out and making my intended moves, to playing without any link from brain to finger tip. Everything is going from sight to finger. Such a silly trap to fall into. So easy to avoid. I am not beaten in these games. I give them away.

Chess and Early Bishop Check

It is surorising in Chess the things that will be discovered. For example, moving the Bishop down to check the King during the opening. It seems like a powerful move. The bishop is out there, and the enemy King is checked within the first ten or so moves. Who is the best player now?

What is not so obvious until it becomes obvious is the downside of doing this. At the very least your Bishop gets threatened by a pawn and has to move back somewhere. Moving back to a good square for the Bishop is best. However you suddenly realise the enemy is now ahead of you in development.

Move your Bishop to the side and within a few moves you may end up losing your Bishop to an aggressive pawn or spiteful knight. Now you realize you wasted two or three moves from your own development only to lose your Bishop. Suddenly your game does not look so good and you work on a fix.

Seems like a good move, until you learn it is not.

Seems like a good move, until you learn it is not.

Growing beyond being cocky with my Bishop I now find one of my Knights being picked off and I can not retaliate because my Knight was hanging. That’s what happens from fixing my Bishop dilemma. Fix one weakness and almost immediately find another weakness to replace it with.

This reminds me of watching children who are just learning to play chess. They know the end goal is to attack the enemy King. The get a piece free from the back rank and charge down the board attacking the King. And they lose their piece.

Undaunted, they move out another piece from the back rank and repeat the process. Or worse for them, their enemy has sent a lone assassin down the board attacking their King. Now they have to figure out how to stop the piece from mating the King.

Some games, I feel like one of these children. For every puzzle or problem solved another rears its ugly head. Of course I do not know it exists until it happens in the moment. Sometime it is too strong a mistake to overcome in the moment.

I put up a good fight, but I am not usually strong enough to make up for the mistake I have discovered. Those few times the enemy across the board makes a move equally poor, and I am able to take advantage of it, we are whisked into the end game.

Of course my end game is not that strong either. It is hard to become experienced with the end game when I am pummeled in the middle game and never really see an end game. I understand now why serious players study the end game so much. Eventually the end game arrives for all of us.

I imagine chess players like more puzzles than just chess. Or perhaps, chess players are satisfied mainly with chess and play other puzzle games as a small diversion. No matter how strong you become there is always another problem to be solved. To make it even more interesting the stronger one becomes, the more complex the newly discovered problem becomes.

It is an easy matter to not send out your Bishop to make a silly check on the enemy King. When a player is much stronger, and an unknown in the moment problem arises, a player may have to rethink their whole game. Their tried and tested old standby approach has suddenly revealed some serious flaws. Someone has unceremoniously torn their game apart as they watch. Until the problem is no longer solvable within ones time and ability.

If this time ever happens for me, I hope people still enjoy Chess for what it provides.

Kid Learns Chess

I may have written about this before. If so maybe I did it better this time. The Kid was seven years old and and loved the Ninja Turtles. This was when the Ninja Turtles first made an appearance, as in cartoons. The Kid would watch one show after another, even though I found them pretty boring, he didn’t.

I did not see a lot of sense to the battles, and all the moves, but as mentioned he found them fascinating. It was Memorial Day if memory serves, the family was together and the chess board came out. There were a number of us who thought we were hot stuff on the chessboard.

Of those two or three of us were sure we were the best player in the family. The Kid played a few games and lost. It is pretty hard to win when you do not even know the pieces and how they move. But for a seven year old it wasn’t a bad attempt.

The Kid’s Grandma made sure he had a chess board at home to play with. No one thought any more about it. Chess for some reason is pretty boring to most people. I thought for him even though chess was fighting, it would not compete with the Ninja Turtles.

When the Christmas holidays rolled around and we were all together, the chess board was dusted off, and we started playing. The adults who thought they were the better players were going to show off their superior skills this time, we were serious now.

After the adults who wanted to played each other, the children were allowed to play the last winning adult. When it was The Kid’s turn, one of the adults fell under his overwhelming army. We all thought it was a funny mistake.

One after another the adults were losing. Some quickly, and some more slowly, but the outcome was the same. As I watched, The Kid seemed to get stuck in a position. I would have been stuck too, it seemed he was only making random moves with no sense of end point or continuity that shows there is a plan.

It was during these times I heard him whisper to himself, “What would the Ninja Turtles do?”

How funny I thought, Ninja Turtles were just a cartoon and their fighting had no basis in the real world. The Turtles would fight, win yet another victory. WHile I was daydreaming another adult was sent away to eat a big slice of humble pie.

Family being Family, we played again over New Years. There was a minor shift in who was the chess champion for another few months, though that was not all that happened. There was a champion who remained near the helm of the family chess hierarchy. All seven years of him.

This is where it happened. Everyone took turns watching one of the others get beat, waiting their turn. Everyone saw what looked like major blunders being committed by The Kid. Many of the watchers could not contain themselves, and had to comment on what they saw as poor moves.

Three or four times a game one comment or another would be set loose from someone watching the game in progress. I felt like the only rational one making comments. Mine was always the same. He beat you, you should not be giving him advice on how to play. No one listened of course.

Don't Teach those who beat you how to play chess

Don’t Teach those who beat you how to play chess

Easter arrived, and the family was together again. The chess board came out and the family started playing. It was different this time. The almost eight year old who mopped up the floor with us, was losing slowly every game. He lost to all but the worst of us.

I never heard him ask himself, “What would the Ninja Turtles do?”. Instead I watched him making family approved moves – that really did nothing to improve his position or worsen his opponents. He was now playing as poorly as we were.

I keep waiting to see the flashes of skill I saw him once have. I think he lost whatever spark chess had lit in him trying to play correctly. He is still a good player among the family, but no longer has the Ninja Turtles to guide his play and spark his creativity.

Recently I started to understand what The Kid had learned form the Ninja Turtles all those years ago. While I was watching the sword play, and listening to the shouting he was doing that and more. He was learning strategy while observing tactics.

Even though Ninja Turtles was a cartoon created for kids, it was made by adults. Adults who in their secret lives, were some sort of undercover Super Hero waiting to be released. Their Super Hero self was released under the guise of one or more of the Ninja Turtles.

I do not remember any of the Ninja Turtle battles I watched as I paid little attention back then. I now understand the concept and how it applies to the chess board. Attack until resistance is strong, then pull back an attack on another front. Repeat until you either win, crushing your opponent with overwhelming force, or your King is gallantly struggling to survive one more move on the march to fifty moves.

Strategy and Tactics may not be the be all, end all of chess mastery. But for us mere mortals, Strategy and Tactics are usually the game changer deciding who wins and who does not.

Improve Your Chess Play

Not a lot of meat to this post. I was playing chess engines on the net the other day, and this happened. I beat Stockfish which was set at default level 1, 1350 elo. I am leaning my chess is improving despite my lack of any interest of serious study through books, etc. I want chess to be fun. I have enough other serious parts of my life.

It was a rather silly game. I was fully expecting to get trashed as usual, when I noticed Stockfish made a rather poor tactical play and left its Queen unguarded in the middle of the board.

I pretended to start an attack down the left (A,1) side of the chess board, and took the Queen with a Knight, which I lost, but who cares? In that moment when I noticed the Queen was left unprotected for more than one move, I thought to myself, ‘I have a chance to win this game. It’s not playing as hard as I thought.’

If you have been following my chess exploits, or lack thereof, you know my goal was to break 1000 elo. I was about 850 elo at the time, so it seemed a daunting task. I am happy with what I have achieved. Especially as I only have limited time to play, and less time to study.

One thing I have learned however, is to quit thinking about whether any one move is the ‘right move’. I have been instead trying to find the move that seems to be the strongest and does something. Something may be development, protect another pawn or piece, or poses a new potential threat to the enemy.

Don’t you be afraid to make non standard moves. As long as they are not weak moves, they may prove to turn the tide in a game you are in. If the move does not work, hopefully you understand why your move did not work as planned. Modify your move, and try it again.

If you are starting out in chess, and are sitting at 800 or 900 elo, don’t get frustrated and give up. You only know what you know, and you can only play within your scope of knowledge. While I am far from being able to say I play chess well, I certainly play better than when I started to learn how to play properly. You too will play better chess in time.

Of course this is another far from pretty checkmate, but I’ll take it.

Never thought I would see this result!

Never thought I would see this result!

Proof Aliens Live Among Us

I have found proof of Alien life here on Earth along with pictures to support my claim! The first picture is of the space ship Aliens used to travel to Earth in. Notice it is subtly disguised so as not to draw attention to the fact is is a real spaceship?

Alien Space Ship hiding in plane sight!

Alien Space Ship hiding in plane sight!








I found not too far away, the outpost these Alien’s  constructed to live in. Obviously our atmosphere is not quite right for them. I am guessing they live where the hands and feet would be and the rest of structure provides energy and other requirements for living on Earth.

Alien are here, this is their outpost

Alien are here, this is their outpost

















I am sure there are solar collectors on the Alien habitat because i=the structure is facing partially north, so it gets sun all day long. I am sure this is advanced technology because both the space ship and the alien habitat look so harmless and innocent. Who would guess they are connected?

I am expecting due to the structure of the habitat, that the aliens are an insect type, and are used to tunneling. For whatever reason earth is not totally their liking. Is it possible this habitat is or was a temporary structure?

Could they have they built their real home into the rock bed below, having shafts cut into the earth below the feet. Is the rocl surrounding the structure from the digging operations that have been performed?

Quite brilliant of these aliens to live right amongst us in a leading technology and cultural area accenting alien pretense as a not only plausible but probable.

Aliens migrate by Terra-forming

This is my theory about life landing on Earth from outer space. Pretend for a few moments that we on Earth have resolved all our differences and have learned to live as one people. Quite a stretch I know, but pretend for a few minutes.

The people of Earth want to travel to other planets and perhaps galaxies, but they are so far away, and our technology is still lacking. The closest planets we want to move to are generations away. We haven’t developed the ability to create and launch multi generations space vehicles yet.

Yet is the key word. We may be able to in the future, but we can not do this yet. We can give ourselves a jump on making new planets habitable. We can do this by launching rockets carrying micro sized pellets of material for planet scape. Let’s make our planet closer. Lets think about getting to Mars and setting up a viable colony of people there. Mars is something we can do in the foreseeable future.

We are getting better at creating designer microbes and designer bacteria. How about we identify or create a microbe here on Earth that can eat some substance on Mars we do not care about or need once we get there.

Let’s create, modify or otherwise produce this microbe to create a waste product we do want. The microbial waste product could be one of the basic components of atmosphere for example. We create some custom microbes and launch them on a rocket ship to Mars.

As our discoveries, technology and knowledge grows so does our microbe creation. We can create ever more meaningful microbes that create as a by product something we need on Mars once we get there.

Aliens Not Attacking

No need to kill life on Earth

Eventually we are in the process of terraforming Mars. Making it closer to something we can inhabit easier. Since we have developed and improved on our microbes and bacteria, there is no sense letting them go to waste.

We package them up and send them off to a further planet we want to someday inhabit. We keep picking out planets further and further away from Earth, but not prohibitively far away from the previous planet we plan on inhabiting some day.

At some point in the process our rockets will be hit by asteroids, or other debris, and our microbes will be dispersed in ever new directions, destined to land on other unknown planets.

Is it possible this has been happening for thousands of years? Projectiles from other civilizations sending out pods of microbes and bacteria with the intent of terraforming planets to their needs for future habitation at some distant point in time?

Some of the pods have been damaged and their contents disbursed landing on barren surfaces starting the process of terraforming? Landing on Earth, most of them benign, but a few not so friendly causing disease and pestilence we had not seen previously?

There does not have to be mal-intent in the actions of sending out projectiles and pods with bacteria and microbes. There just has to be a want to terraform a hostile planet into a planet where future inhabitation may be easier thanks to the efforts of those who lived hundreds or maybe even thousands of generations earlier.

These packages of life terra-forming life may have happened so far in the past the civilizations that sent them do not even know they arrived here on earth.

Alien planet hopping intentions may be lost in time. Only their efforts reamin, lost life forms wandering the galaxies until some planet like mass blocks their path. Some arriving life forms survive and thrive, others perish in a hostile environment.  In the end result, it may even have been ourselves who sent life forms into space eons ago.

Beating Gnome Chess?

Since my previous post about my chess ability or lack thereof, I have not until now felt the need to post anything on chess. I had decided that I did not have the time or inclination to achieve anything higher than beginning chess.

Since that time I have been playing for fun and only chess against whatever program is on whatever electronics I have near. Nothing serious, just casual play. I started to take Hold’em much more serious as Hold’em is where the money is. I feel that I am short of time to devote to playing chess well. Well enough to actually earn any money from chess. To be truthful, Hold’em is a lot easier – for me at least.

In hopes of becoming better at Hold’em, I have a few five minute games I play daily to help my visual awareness become stronger. Or at least that is the plan. They are both tile games. One game is Mahjong and the second is a game is named Shisen-Sho, both played with tiles. Mahjong has always been the easier of the two games for me. I have had to work at Shisen-Sho.

In the last year or so, I have cut my puzzle solve time almost forty percent. I attribute this to improved visual awareness. I find matches more quickly. The hope is, improved visual awareness will transfer to Hold’em as I will have better focus at the table.

If you have watched videos of the master chess games, perhaps you appreciate the beauty of their moves. Watching those high level games is like watching a complex choreographed dance. Moves and counter moves flowing over the board. Opponents lose their King to such pretty combinations of play.

I appreciate the same beauty when I play chess engines though they are not as pretty. Every move I make has a more powerful counter move both thwarting my move and creating a stronger position for the chess engine. It makes getting thrashed by an over powerful chess engine less painful and more fun. I provide the dancing clomp-about that spurs the engines power.

I choose for the most part to limit my chess to casual levels where the machine moves are fairly mindless. When I lose, the next game is only a click away. Until last week that is when I became bored with mindless chess moves and wanted to play a stronger opponent. I downloaded a number of boards and chess engines to play against (I use Linux).

Most beat me easily, I almost feel like a spectator in the match. Last night one game was different. I played against the chess engine Fairy-max. I could not find a definite Elo rating, but the few posts I found seem certain Fairy-max is rated around 1800 – 1900.

I beat Fairy-max! It was not pretty. There were no ballet moves and pretty combinations. There was me playing as a barbarian, hacking and slashing whenever there was opportunity, all the while waiting for the ax to fall and the game to be over.

I managed a checkmate before I made a bumbling move or two and lost the game through poor play and decision making. I was really proud of myself. My game was not pretty, and I am sure to someone who really plays chess, my mate is quite ugly. But a win is a win and I will take it.

Then came the sad news. I played Fairy-max through Gnome Chess, which previously has been unbeatable for most people. After my win, I knew something was not right as the game was sloppy on the computers part.

Ugly Checkmate

One ugly checkmate, but I’ll take it

After looking around, I found Gnome Chess now has preferences. There are now three levels of play strength. Gnome Chess defaults to the lowest level. So much for my vastly improved ability….

I am not able to determine what level play the levels really are. I am able to beat Fairy-max in the normal setting, which is the middle level. I have not tried the top difficulty level yet.

I doubt you will ever read a post by me on extolling the beauty and strength of a game I played, or seeing a checkmate twelve moves out. I enjoy leaving these things to others. I am grateful for what I have achieved in the moment and that is enough for right now.

I almost forgot to mention, my Hold’em game has improved too!

How Poker Saved My Life

This true story took place years ago in a European metropolitan city….I am probably the only one to remember it even took place.

There are many advantages in every day life learned from playing poker. One quickly learns the value of sound play. One quickly learns the value of money. One quickly learns the value giving away information, and collecting information.

Having a poker face goes a long way in not giving away information. In my case I believe having a poker face once saved my life.

I was visiting a city where English was not the preferred language. I tried to learn a little of the language before arriving, but there was not enough time, and I am a slow learner of languages. I learned just enough to have a semi-intelligent conversation with a three year old, if they do not try to impress me with their command of the language.

As tourists we tend to wander around and go places where the locals fear to tread. I was one of those wandering tourists, wandering around where no one who has any concern for life and limb would be wandering. Poker does take some amount of risk acceptance, but I unknowingly crossed the risk line as a tourist.

I had wandered into a seedy area of town, to a bar where some really bad people hung out. Not only did they hang out there, but they openly discussed business I unfortunately discovered. Business that was not healthy for anyone else to hear.

In my own ignorance, I did not know the place was seedy, nor did I know it was a haunt of some very serious people of criminal intent. All I wanted was a cold beer, and a break from the heat. It was a rather small bar with only five or six tables. I bought a beer at the bar and sat down at a table. Close by were four men who were in guarded, halted conversation. Two of the men had their backs to me.

Sometimes we make poor decisions

Sometimes we make poor decisions

One of the men with his back to me was angry and impatient, I thought by the tone of his speech. I also understood enough to know this was a conversation I should not be hearing. I was becoming nervous. A lone tourist off the beaten path sitting next to serious men talking about a criminal situation.

After a few minutes of back and forth conversation, one of the men with his back to me realized someone was sitting behind him – in hearing range. From hearing the tone of the talk I knew he was in charge. I also knew this could be the last cold beer of my life.

To say I was nervous was to put it mildly. These were hard men. These were serious men. I realized they could take me outside and I would never be heard from again. Some unfortunate tourist disappeared, and no one saw anything.

I did the only thing I could do. I put on my poker face and acted like it was a hot day outside and I was in the bar having a cold beer, ignorant to the conversation I was hearing and partially understanding.

The Leader inspected me for a good twenty or thirty seconds, which in the moment seemed like a good ten minutes. I did my best to act like I did not have a care in the world and only spoke and understood English, oblivious to the men’s presence.

Suddenly he stood up, and asked the men if they thought I understood their talk, while looking at me intently. I calmly took another drink. Two of the men replied to him saying, “no”. The leader walked behind me, stood quietly for a few seconds, turned and walked to the door. The other men got up and followed. I sat still trying to act as if it was a Sunday morning and I was quietly having milk and cookies.

I felt like Jello inside. I calmly took another drink and breathed a silent sigh of relief. A few minutes later I finished my beer, and walked outside, not sure what to expect.

Mine was the only car present in the parking lot. I got in and drove off, thinking to myself, “What a lucky man I am”. I thanked my lucky stars for poker. Without the skills poker taught me, who knows what the outcome of my misadventure may have been.

Thanks to the skills poker taught me, I am able to relate this story, such as it is. Perhaps without poker, I would have let on through facial expression or body posture that I understood enough of the conversation putting myself in danger. I was a serious threat to the men at the table because of what I heard and understood them discussing.

Without my playing time at the poker table, you would not now be reading this story. No matter what you feel about poker in general, poker, once you get past the basics, poker is all about interacting with people and understanding their actions.

If you are in the workforce you interact with people. If you need to make a high dollar purchase you interact with people. Getting groceries you interact with people. You can not get through your day easily without interacting with people.

You may never be in a situation where how you act effects your very survival, but knowing how to act, and how other people are acting around you, is a very important people skill for success in life. Poker is a only game played using money to keep score. The more you practice and learn, the better you may become. Some day you may need the very skills found in a poker game.

Tagging and Self Esteem

This picture is of a tagging in a bathroom at local eatery.

Is this a statement or cry for recognition of existence?

Is this a statement or cry for recognition of existence?

I find it so sad that some young adult wants and needs the world to know they exist bad enough to settle for putting their work on the bottom of a toilet seat. Along with another tagging of someone putting their work on a pipe near the floor.

Do they feel their lives are so trivial that this is the best they can do to make their mark on the world? They can not look up any higher than the bottom of a toilet seat and the bathroom floor?

I have always viewed tagging as a cry out to the world that the tagger exists. They have nothing but the clothes they wear, a marker or a can of paint.

What could they be doing with their lives if they had a better start on life, or could look a little higher?

How you Choose to Advertise

There are times and places for Company and Business advertising. Whether it be a company vehicle, sweater or hat, there are appropriate places you want your company logo seen.

The picture below, poor as it is, was taken in the parking lot of a casino. In the same casino I see people wearing company shirts, company logos, and company hats.

I watch company branded vehicles pass me on a busy street ten miles per hour over the speed limit, weaving through traffic. Company vehicles stopped at a liquor store and sometimes adult book stores are not uncommon sights.

Advertising in non-appropriate places are rarely, if ever large national companies. Usually they are small Mom and Pop companies, with an owner and a few employees. If you are one of these small companies, this post is directed at you. You are making poor choices where you allow your company vehicle or your employees in company clothing to be

What is your business image

Where do you choose to take your company?

I won’t be hiring you for a job because I saw your vehicle at the liquor store on a Wednesday afternoon. I won’t be hiring you because I saw you wearing a company shirt at the blackjack table. I won’t be hiring you because I saw your vehicle parked at an adult book store.

I am picky about who I allow to work on my house and property. I do not want someone doing a job for me that may be in a hurry to get the job done so they can get to the liquor store, a casino, or spend their money at an adult book store.

You may be the best in the city at what you do. Unfortunately, the choices you make, when and where you choose to advertise your company and product make you suspect. If you want to advertise on your vehicle, remember there is more to advertising than the tax break. Business owner beware, your prospective clients are watching what you do.