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Grazza

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Status Updates posted by Grazza

  1. 25

     

    Yes, my 25th book has recently been published. (Actually, it was published on Chess Studio a couple of months ago.) The timing - just before Christmas - is deliberate, but coinciding with a world championship match was accidental.

     

    Chess_Opening_Traps_for_Kids_Big.jpg

     

    Click the image for Amazon links for hardcopy and Kindle. The Kindle free sample includes the introductions and the first 10 sections or so. There's also a PDF free sample on the Gambit website.

     

    This is the most elementary book I have written for some years, but is by no means a babyish book. It should be useful for players up to decent club standard too. Choosing good clear examples was a big task, and avoiding excessively complex language was a challenge. I also wanted to write a book that presented a modern view of opening play, rather than the inflexible and unrealistic "rule-based" approach that you tend to find in old books (even though it has never accurately represented how good players handle this phase of the game). This runs the risk of confusing readers, but should lead to better opening play.

     

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. Grazza

      Grazza

      Now and then. Less than I used to.

    3. KVELLER

      KVELLER

      And what are your other books about?

    4. Grazza

      Grazza

      Clicking on the author link on the Amazon page will list many of them.

  2. Cheetahs, ten days ago at Sabi Sands, South Africa:

     

    j2SHJBb.jpg

     

    JR8xwfU.jpg

     

    ZoOE10X.jpg

     

    MJHAWFp.jpg

     

    gbE9W5H.jpg

  3. http://www.20q.net/

     

    Q20.  I am guessing that it is a galaxy?
    Right, Wrong, Close
    19.          I guessed that it was a wedding cake? Wrong.
    18.          Is it made in many different styles? Irrelevant.
    17.          Is it a synthetic material? No.
    16.          Can it be used more than once? Irrelevant.
    15.          Can it bend without breaking? Irrelevant.
    14.          Can you control it? No.
    13.          Does it burn? Irrelevant.
    12.          Can you sit on it? No.
    11.          Does it get wet? No.
    10.          Can it be painted? No.
    9.          Can it be placed on your head? No.
    8.          Is it colourful? Yes.
    7.          Is it something you can wear? No.
    6.          Does it eat grass? No.
    5.          Is it white? Usually.
    4.          Does it come in different colours? Yes.
    3.          Is it larger than a microwave oven (or bread box)? Yes.
    2.          Does it break if dropped? Irrelevant.
    1.          It is classified as Other.[code]

     

    LOL

  4. Sphere Camera

     

    Yay, new toy. Basically a 180-degree fisheye that makes panoramas easy, as well as getting distorted images of fingers, etc., around the edge of the image.

     

    YKMbGQU.jpg

    Forest canopy

     

    jqk75an.jpg

    Ice cave

     

    VHOCAlG.jpg

    hmm

     

    nGHIbnw.jpg

    new possibilities in alcohol photography

     

    1. Show previous comments  6 more
    2. Memfis

      Memfis

      They kinda look like crystal balls with tiny worlds inside.

    3. Grazza

      Grazza

      Linguica: no, selfies suck.

       

      Glad people like the ice cave. Though it should be said that any photos of the cave looked amazing. If you want to see it, it is at the Perito Moreno Glacier (around 50.4906 S, 73.0532 W), but it will soon be gone as water pressure will break it apart. New ones will form of course, here and in other places, but this one was relatively stable and pretty easily accessible (well, once you were in that part of Patagonia...).

    4. Grazza

      Grazza

      Another one, taken today:

      qQuHQaC.jpg

      Champagne Pool, Waiotapu, New Zealand

  5. The night before last, I gave a lecture about my new book (and preparation/finding ideas generally) at Chess Castle in Minneapolis. With the audience ranging from three grandmasters to several non-players (0-2800 FIDE Elo!), it was hard to get the level right, so I mostly tried to throw in a few jokes.

     

    For those unfortunate enough not to be enjoying the Minnesota winter and who couldn't attend, I have attached some materials from the lecture - a ChessBase file and a PDF.

    Lecture.7z

  6. 24

     

    Yes, my 24th book has just been published. (Actually, it was published on Chess Studio a couple of months ago.)

     

    125_Chess_Opening_Surprises_Big.jpg

     

    Click the image for Amazon links for hardcopy and Kindle. The Kindle free sample includes the introductions and the first 15 sections or so.

     

    It was a fairly large amount of work. Even though it is "just" a new edition, updating the original content was as much work as writing the book in the first place had been. And there is a bunch of new content (which includes some Alekhine and King's Indian stuff, for those interested - some of that is in the free PDF sample from the Gambit website). The updated material includes the "whole truth", as I see it, on the Nescafé Frappé Attack. So that's something for the conspiracy theorists to chew on.

     

    And in case you are wondering, I am not looking to buy a kettle or a toaster at this point.

     

    Just to be clear: this isn't an elementary book. My next one probably will be though. I might need a new fridge by then, you never know.

     

    1. Megalyth

      Megalyth

      I miss chess. Playing online isn't quite the same as sitting down at a hand-crafted board for a gentlemanly game.

  7. This just spotted on CNN.com:

     

    n1bdBQi.jpg

     

    Only an actual trainwreck is missing.

     

    1. Show previous comments  3 more
    2. Albertoni

      Albertoni

      Unless your point was that they're intentionally putting those things side by side, in that case... Gotta agree with you.

    3. Fonze

      Fonze

      I like how the first pic seems to be entirely about the US, then the next, clarification pic is mostly Britain. Funny coincidence.

    4. Glaice

      Glaice

      It's corporate news, what do you expect? Both sides do this shit.

  8. In commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the worst air crash in history, here are a few pictures taken at the memorial in La Laguna, Tenerife, two weeks ago.

     

    s4HIebO.jpg
    The airport and Teide are visible in the background.

     

    CGwhAP0.jpg
    The plaque.

     

    wMF50cd.jpg
    The airport tower and runway can be seen behind the base of the memorial.

     

    The layout of the runway and taxiways hasn't changed much. When my flight left a few days later, I recognized the point where we took off as being pretty much exactly the same as the point of impact in 1977.

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. Grazza

      Grazza

      Yeah, pretty much a worst-case scenario.

    3. Fonze

      Fonze

      That's a terrible, tragic story of everything going wrong, but it's nice that they made a pretty memorial for it. Good pics, btw.

    4. Devalaous

      Devalaous

      I learned something today. Something sad, but something nonetheless

  9. If I write "poop" here, will anyone notice, or is this some kind of dead zone now?

    1. Show previous comments  6 more
    2. Voros

      Voros

      Ball shit snake, notice me.

    3. Da Werecat

      Da Werecat

      There's something really wrong with your senpai, Voros.

    4. Voros

      Voros

      Yeah there is. I don't know what, but there is.


  10. Sunrise at Ashford Mill Ruins


    Badwater Basin, the lowest point in North America


    Salt crystals in Badwater Basin


    Pretty colours at Artist's Palette


    Golden Canyon


    Warning sign at the entrance to Golden Canyon


    A relatively cold day in hell


    View down towards Badwater Basin from Dante's View, more than 5000 feet above it


    View north/west across Death Valley from Dante's View

    1. Show previous comments  10 more
    2. Grazza

      Grazza

      85.5 meters. Though the conversion is a bit off.

    3. Hellbent

      Hellbent

      Ahh.. not dyslexic, just blind.

    4. Grazza

      Grazza

      Two depth-related pics:


      Bunch of info (though apparently a little out of date). I often take pictures of these things to save time - I can read them later.


      You can make out the "sea level" marker part way up the cliff. Somewhere on the top (right of centre) is Dante's View.

  11. Some random recent-ish pics:


    Full-size image: http://imgur.com/fUaEViN.jpg
    White House seen from Washington Monument. Something was going on there (zoom in on the full-size image).


    Full-size image: http://imgur.com/OFx3inW.jpg
    Finsteraarhorn, my favourite mountain in the Alps (it looks pointier from the side), viewed from Nufenenpass. Note the hang glider or whatever it is.


    Full-size image: http://imgur.com/5oaW3IG.jpg
    KVLY-TV mast, near Blanchard, North Dakota. World's tallest radio mast. Fourth-tallest man-made structure in the world. World's tallest man-made structure 1963-74, 1991-2010.


    Full-size image: http://imgur.com/gYn2fWB.jpg
    Hiking on the Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand.

    1. Show previous comments  6 more
    2. Grazza

      Grazza

      A guide. See the link in my last-but-one post.

    3. Memfis

      Memfis

      Grazza's last pic reminded me of this classic sky texture:

    4. Grazza

      Grazza

      That looks totally like a picture I might have taken, though I don't recognize that precise scene.

  12. Back in 1998 I wrote a little book called The Quickest Chess Victories of All Time. Among the many games featured in it was one where a Mr Kock played White against a Mr Sucher - by standard convention referred to as the game "Kock-Sucher". While I didn't wish to draw too much attention to this unfortunate pairing, I naturally couldn't let it pass totally without comment.

    Inevitably it made its way onto the Interwebs; e.g.:
    http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/AccidentalInnuendo/RealLife (about three quarters of the way down the page)
    http://www.chessgames.com/perl/chessgame?gid=1732372

    It could be worse; there are players called Kunte and Fuchs, but as far as I know they have never played. Let's hope that if they did, it would be in Condom.

    Anyway, just in time for Xmas, a new edition has been published.
    amazon.com/dp/B00RCPCC5W]
    There's a big free sample of the Kindle edition, as usual. Sorry, this does not feature Kock-Sucher. (I think we improved the cover; you can see the old one amazon.com/dp/1857445384]here.)

    The book contains about 50000 chess moves, so if you are actually interested in reading it, the Chess Studio edition might be a better option. Note that each purchase will provide enough income to feed my two starving cats for a day.

    1. Csonicgo

      Csonicgo

      I bet Robert Hyatt would buy this (again). I'll let him know.

    2. MajorRawne

      MajorRawne

      Let's face it, after your rather amusing advert, no-one here will buy this for the 50,000 chess moves. They're buying it to laugh at the funny names.

  13. An article by me has just appeared at ChessCafe. Milton is featured too!

    1. Memfis

      Memfis

      Nice retrospective, I've never thought about just how "dangerous" it was to write chess books back when people didn't have chess programs and the authors had to do all the analysis by themselves. Managing an opening library must have been hell as well, having to deal with countless papers and to follow the latest findings all the time.

      I see that Alexander Kotov's books are known in the US as well. Just recently I've read his "В шутку и всерьёз" (1965), an inside look at a grandmaster's life (no analysis or anything, just stories and anecdotes). In one of the chapters he talks about the practice of adjourning games after 40 moves. I thought it's a shame that that wouldn't work today since we have computers, it sounded like an interesting part of the game, like an ultimate test of player's analyzing skills.

    2. Grazza

      Grazza

      Thanks - glad you liked it.

      Memfis said:
      I see that Alexander Kotov's books are known in the US as well. Just recently I've read his "В шутку и всерьёз" (1965), an inside look at a grandmaster's life (no analysis or anything, just stories and anecdotes).

      It's really only his book Think Like a Grandmaster (Kak Stat' Grossmeisterom) that he is widely remembered for in the West, and in fact just the first part of that book. It is viewed as a somewhat unrealistic model of how to think, but at least it gets people to think about how they think. A generation of players were probably too embarrassed to admit that they didn't think in that way, but in the last couple of decades there have been some critiques that present a more realistic view. Perhaps the most telling point is that even computers think in a much more flexible way than Kotov advocated, and his whole point was to get people to think more like a machine. Anyway, I felt pretty safe in this piece referring to Kotov's model as an archetype of excessively regimented thought.

      In one of the chapters he talks about the practice of adjourning games after 40 moves. I thought it's a shame that that wouldn't work today since we have computers, it sounded like an interesting part of the game, like an ultimate test of player's analyzing skills.

      Actually, there was a recent event that experimented with adjournments. It is indeed possible that they were abandoned without sufficient reason. At the time (early 1990s) it just seemed self-evident: computer use could simply decide the result of some adjourned games, so there should be no adjournments at all. The upshot, however, is that most endgames are now played with very little time to think, with the outcome depending on stamina and bladder stength as much as chess skill. We've swapped the occasional injustice for a general lowering of the level of endgame play. On the other hand, events can run on a faster schedule, with no need to build in extra days for adjournments.

  14. Some photos of this morning's lunar eclipse:


    About 50 minutes before totality.


    Start of totality (c. 5.25 am).


    "Blood moon".


    Totality has ended.


    Partial eclipse continued through moonset/sunrise.

    All photos taken with my Nikon, and hand-held (tripods are for wusses).

    1. Show previous comments  9 more
    2. Grazza

      Grazza

      Two weeks on, and the three bodies are in pretty good alignment again, albeit in a different order. Only a partial eclipse (no corona), but still interesting to see a bite being taken out of the sun. Once again a clear sky, and the eclipse continued through sunset. Here are some pictures, all taken looking west across the Mississippi from just south of Prescott, WI. (GPS: <a href=https://www.google.com/maps/place/44%C2%B044%2734.4%22N+92%C2%B047%2729.8%22W/@44.7428884,-92.7916111,15z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0>44.7429° -92.7916°</a>)

      <a href=http://i.imgur.com/Lesiqsm.jpg><img src=http://i.imgur.com/Lesiqsml.jpg></a>
      OK, so using an improvised dark filter may not have been the greatest idea.

      <a href=http://i.imgur.com/tOWSEuc.jpg><img src=http://i.imgur.com/tOWSEucl.jpg></a>
      View up-river.

      <a href=http://i.imgur.com/yoVPyfq.jpg><img src=http://i.imgur.com/yoVPyfql.jpg></a>
      The top of the sun is missing!

      <a href=http://i.imgur.com/Ili03MQ.jpg><img src=http://i.imgur.com/Ili03MQl.jpg></a>

      <a href=http://i.imgur.com/ohyYPz8.jpg><img src=http://i.imgur.com/ohyYPz8l.jpg></a>

      <a href=http://i.imgur.com/22B0u5v.jpg><img src=http://i.imgur.com/22B0u5vl.jpg></a>
      The round ball is one of those things they put on high cables crossing the river to make them more visible.

    3. GreyGhost

      GreyGhost

      Grazza said:

      The round ball is one of those things they put on high cables crossing the river to make them more visible.

      Or a UFO, since it's a bit too large to be Mercury.

      They're still not visible enough to keep crop-dusting pilots from hitting the wires.

    4. Dragonsbrethren

      Dragonsbrethren

      Completely clouded out again. Today? Beautiful, not a cloud in the sky.

  15. OMG, Road Trip!!!

    Just travelled from Woodbury, MN to Las Vegas, NV, over the course of three days. Something like this:

    <iframe style="height: 270px; width: 450px;" src="http://www.mapquest.com/embed?hk=LVtBIb" marginwidth="0" marginheight="0" frameborder="0" scrolling="no"></iframe>

    Actually, pretty much exactly like that (overnight stops in Murdo, SD, and Grand Junction, CO).

    Virtually none of the driving was on snow (the only trivial exceptions were in some towns in Nebraska on Highway 83; outside the towns, the wind had swept the roads clear of the previous night's inch or two of dry snow). I'll claim that was due to good route planning. The Sandhills were kind of cool, and eerie-looking on a clear and very cold morning.

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. GreyGhost

      GreyGhost

      TheCupboard said:

      pot in Colorado

      I still believe that's what John Denver was alluding to when singing "Rocky Mountain High".

    3. Krispy

      Krispy

      Good job making it through Grand Junction. I got stuck there for a whole week once when the car broke down. Nice town though. Did you happen to see the old hotel or water park or theater or awesome tea shop?

    4. Grazza

      Grazza

      No, but thanks for the pointers. I'll spend a little more time in GJ when I pass through it again on Monday. My schedule will be more relaxed then.

  16. I spent a week in Chile just before Christmas. A few pictures:


    High up near the border with Argentina (c. 3930m). The road referred to in the sign was a dirt track with 44 hairpins.


    A jewel lizard in one of the National Parks.


    The San José volcano venting.

    Here (attached) is a kmz file that you can load with Google Earth. It features the GPS coordinates of places where I took photos. (To attach it, I needed to give it a .zip extension; either rename it with a .kmz extension or use the enclosed .kml file.)

    chile.zip

    1. Show previous comments  2 more
    2. Grazza

      Grazza

      TheCupboard said:

      Cheers! The first picture would make a great FSKY1.

      Glad you like it. FWIW, the rightmost peak in the mountains in the distance is Alto de Los Leones.

      Obsidian said:

      I see green, yellow, blue and possibly orange on that lizard. It's the M&M Gecko! :P

      The orange ones don't appear to be scales like the other colours. Even on the original image, I find it hard to make out what they are. Maybe it is skin in the process of being shed.

    3. GreyGhost

      GreyGhost

      Maybe faded flecks of blood from the last tourist it ate? I know they're tiny, which means they must hunt in packs to take down large prey.

      Is that crucifix in the third picture a wayside shrine?

    4. Grazza

      Grazza

      Something like that. It was near a trail, and also on the edge of a small settlement (Latitude=-33.823693; Longitude=-70.050217; Elevation= 1883 m).

      The name on it is Juan E Molina N, 4 April 1965 - 1 April 2002 (the last digits uncertain, since there's undergrowth obscuring them on my photo).

  17. No, not my age.

    My 23rd book has just been published. The Kindle edition is actually out before the print edition this time.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F0OABLY

    Probably not of much interest to anyone below good club level, but there's a free sample if you like.

    <a href=http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00F0OABLY#reader_B00F0OABLY><img src=http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/511gDvkJxxL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-62,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg></a>

    1. Show previous comments  10 more
    2. Grazza

      Grazza

      Funny; these ASINs normally don't look anything like a word. One of our earlier books was assigned B00ASHEFBA, while you might also consider B00AKXIOGO just about readable, and Jersey Shore fans may find something in B007JVO0WW.

      Edit: lol, hottest new release at the moment. :P

    3. TimeOfDeath

      TimeOfDeath

      Those would make some good black metal band names. :)

    4. baronofheck82

      baronofheck82

      I knew you wrote books or whatever, but I didn't know you've written 22 previously. Respect :D

  18. My flight from Warsaw to Chicago a couple of days ago took me further north across Greenland than I am used to, so I got a view of the capital, Nuuk (Godthaab).

    It was in the distance (c. 25-30 miles away); the first two pics are "establishing shots", and the last two are with 30x zoom. You can easily make out the airport's runway and a fair number of buildings (well, you can see square blobs).









    I'll be going to Nuuk later in the year, so it was interesting to see it from the air, still snow covered.

    1. Show previous comments  6 more
    2. dew

      dew

      icewind dale...

    3. DooMAD

      DooMAD

      I snapped this pic somewhere over Greenland back in August. Stunning terrain all over that region.

    4. Grazza

      Grazza

      I was briefly in Nuuk again yesterday, where they had their first snow since last winter. Our tiny plane (from Narsarsuaq) skidded on landing, but the pilots didn't seem unduly perturbed.

      The last few days in South Greenland were warmish and sunny, so the sudden arrival in wintry conditions came as a bit of a shock. We dined at a Thai restaurant with "porn" in its name before boarding another little aeroplane for the flight to Reykjavik and a return to normal civilization.

  19. In AD 2012, Cat Show was beginning.

    Photos taken at the Saintly City Cat Show, which is part of the St Paul Winter Carnival.

    <a href=http://img94.imageshack.us/img94/2945/p1330476.jpg><img src=http://img94.imageshack.us/img94/2945/p1330476.th.jpg></a>
    Red tabby, just after the judge had demonstrated the "stroke its lower back and it raises its butt" reflex.

    <a href=http://img3.imageshack.us/img3/567/p1330477.jpg><img src=http://img3.imageshack.us/img3/567/p1330477.th.jpg></a>
    A Norwegian Forest Cat.

    <a href=http://img163.imageshack.us/img163/9049/p1330481.jpg><img src=http://img163.imageshack.us/img163/9049/p1330481.th.jpg></a>
    A Maine Coon.

    <a href=http://img811.imageshack.us/img811/1931/p1330485.jpg><img src=http://img811.imageshack.us/img811/1931/p1330485.th.jpg></a>
    A cute normal-looking cat.

    <a href=http://img854.imageshack.us/img854/6648/p1330488.jpg><img src=http://img854.imageshack.us/img854/6648/p1330488.th.jpg></a>
    A smoosh-face, with eyes lit up in freaky fashion.

    <a href=http://img696.imageshack.us/img696/5922/p1330496.jpg><img src=http://img696.imageshack.us/img696/5922/p1330496.th.jpg></a>
    Judging in progress!

    <a href=http://img864.imageshack.us/img864/3382/p1330500.jpg><img src=http://img864.imageshack.us/img864/3382/p1330500.th.jpg></a>
    A teddy-bear smoosh-face (no, that's not the technical name of the breed) being prepared to be shown off. It reminded me of Bagpuss.

    <a href=http://img651.imageshack.us/img651/8066/p1330518.jpg><img src=http://img651.imageshack.us/img651/8066/p1330518.th.jpg></a>
    This judge's top pick together with its owner. Yes, there is a cat somewhere in that bundle of fur.

    <a href=http://img848.imageshack.us/img848/4023/p1330525.jpg><img src=http://img848.imageshack.us/img848/4023/p1330525.th.jpg></a>
    More judging.

    <a href=http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/2261/p1330544q.jpg><img src=http://img13.imageshack.us/img13/2261/p1330544q.th.jpg></a>
    Where has its face gone?

    <a href=http://img163.imageshack.us/img163/4771/p1330552d.jpg><img src=http://img163.imageshack.us/img163/4771/p1330552d.th.jpg></a>
    Another bag of fur.

    <a href=http://img710.imageshack.us/img710/1018/p1330557.jpg><img src=http://img710.imageshack.us/img710/1018/p1330557.th.jpg></a>
    This little cutey didn't win an award. The little girl who was looking after it gave the judge quite a dirty look.

    omg slideshow wtf

    1. Show previous comments  41 more
    2. bytor

      bytor

      We have one cat and she doesn't tear up anything while we're gone but boy does she come runnin' when we walk in the door.

      http://i869.photobucket.com/albums/ab257/8ballbr549/mylilcat.png

    3. Use

      Use

      I also have one cat, for 5 years now, when I've always had two. Cats act a little differently when they're the only one. When I had two male cats and the older one passed at 15, the younger one started acting like king of the roost. Now I just have a female cat I rescued (another deaf cat, I keep only the deaf ones), and she does fine alone, but she does wait by the door for me to come home, it's pretty cute.

      Also, if you'd like to bust urine smells for good, use a food-grade hydrogen peroxide, slightly diluted. Chemical reaction destroys the ammonia for good, but watch for colorfastness.

    4. Technician

      Technician

      Use3D said:

      Also, if you'd like to bust urine smells for good, use a food-grade hydrogen peroxide, slightly diluted. Chemical reaction destroys the ammonia for good, but watch for colorfastness.

      I'm pretty sure feeding peroxide to these cats is what's making them deaf, bud.

  20. amazon.com/gp/bestsellers/digital-text/156380011/

    Yep, my book has reclaimed the number 1 spot in the Bestsellers in Chess (Kindle, Paid) list. (If you click on the link some time in the future, that might have changed, of course.)

    With the huge financial windfall from this, I'll be able to afford, uh, I dunno, a new kettle or something. (Kindle sales are still pretty small.)

    1. Show previous comments  56 more
    2. myk

      myk

      Creaphis said:
      That still doesn't explain how success causes me to lose confidence in my abilities rather than gain it, and I wish I could figure this out, as this self-defeating cognitive pattern turns up in my life every once in a while.

      Maybe an aversion to compromise, as being good at something may drive you to be involved in it in exclusion of other activities or possibilities. Perhaps a keen sense of skepticism that questions the value of achievements or that starts to ask whether what is being mastered is really worth it (this could be another way to see the compromise idea). Once you posted about imagining doing things (it was map editing, I think) rather than executing them; as if part of your mind were annoyed at the slowness of practical progress, wanting to move ahead instead to tackle challenges in imaginary or hypothetical ways, free from time constraints and tedious material steps.

      Oh and my kettle is a cheap rounded steel whistling kettle with a round back plastic handle :p

      (Incidentally, my toaster is also steel plated.)

    3. Creaphis

      Creaphis

      myk said:

      Maybe an aversion to compromise, as being good at something may drive you to be involved in it in exclusion of other activities or possibilities. Perhaps a keen sense of skepticism that questions the value of achievements or that starts to ask whether what is being mastered is really worth it (this could be another way to see the compromise idea). Once you posted about imagining doing things (it was map editing, I think) rather than executing them; as if part of your mind were annoyed at the slowness of practical progress, wanting to move ahead instead to tackle challenges in imaginary or hypothetical ways, free from time constraints and tedious material steps.

      Oh and my kettle is a cheap rounded steel whistling kettle with a round back plastic handle :p

      (Incidentally, my toaster is also steel plated.)


      I think that my fear of losing a chess game, which only developed after some unexpected victories, is likely due to excessive ego involvement like Grazza suggested. When I succeed in some area, my skill in said area becomes a part of my identity, and the thought of having this segment of my identity forcibly removed by failure makes me nervous. It's definitely true, though, that I have an aversion to compromising myself by specializing, and that I have far more interest in solving problems and creating things in my imaginary sandbox than in the real world. It's interesting that you phrase this in your post as if it's a positive thing: "keen" skepticism, "wanting [...] to tackle challenges." Unfortunately for me, I see no satisfactory way to preserve my consciousness while abandoning this physical realm of practical problems, so I see my aversion to actually doing things as a dangerous tendency that will undoubtedly cause problems for me later on. Even now, it's a minor struggle for me to physically reply to your post, rather than simply phrase my reply in my head and leave it at that.

      I'm sure this is a fact that those of you monitoring my posts will find interesting.

      Grazza said:

      Incidentally, when chess is used in TV shows, there tends to be some basic error made


      If you feel like being mad at something today, watch this.

    4. Grazza

      Grazza

      Creaphis said:

      If you feel like being mad at something today, watch this.

      Actually, the thing I found oddest was that Japanese guys would be playing chess at all, rather than shogi. The international form of chess has taken hold in most Asian nations (with China and India both chess "superpowers", and Vietnam on the rise), but Japan is an exception.

  21. I was a "VIP" guest this weekend at the First Annual Michigan Chess Festival. I created some puzzles for this event, and as there are a few chess enthusiasts here at DW, I'm posting them here too in case they are of interest. The attachment to this post includes PDFs of the handouts I gave out at the event. There is an easy sheet and a harder one.

    The harder puzzles are similar to those in some of the early chapters of my new book The Gambit Book of Instructive Chess Puzzles, which was recently published in the UK, and is soon to be released in the USA. I spent way too much time on this book, but am happy with the outcome.

    detroit_puzzles.zip

    1. Show previous comments  4 more
    2. Grazza

      Grazza

      The Second Annual Michigan Chess Festival took place in early November. I suppose if it hadn't, then the name of last year's event wouldn't have made much sense.

      I was again invited to be a tournament guest, and was spared the hard work of actually playing. While I don't have any way to post the lecture I gave, here is this year's handout, this time with 9 puzzles. None of them are dead easy, and some are distinctly tricky. The puzzles are on page 1 and the solutions on page 2.

      If you'd like something a bit simpler, then the Kindle edition of my puzzle book has just been published, and the free sample is quite large, and is all from the "easy" Chapter 1. Best viewed on an actual Kindle device (or Kindle for PC; click on "Send Sample Now"), as the online "Look Inside" sample doesn't support the pagebreak code.

      michigan_2012.zip

    3. Csonicgo

      Csonicgo

      I wonder how good Crafty is at solving these presets now that its parallel code isn't stupid anymore. I just got it compiling on a Pentium 200 MMX and have been dying to try it in serial mode as well.

    4. Grazza

      Grazza

      It would do rather well, as would any good modern engine running on decent hardware. These puzzles are designed to provide useful training for human players. If I had been intending to create puzzles that would be hard for computers to solve, then my selection criteria would have been very different.

      Some of the later ones in my puzzle book are actually tricky for computers to solve in a reasonable time, though this depends on the details of the program, its settings, resources and, obviously, the hardware.

      I actually tested Stockfish (one of the top current engines) running on an Android device to see how well it could solve the 300 puzzles in my book. I don't have the exact score to hand, but recall that it achieved a "rating" of about 2900*. This was when given about the same time as you'd get in a tournament game to decide on a move, and applying the same marking criteria as described in the book.

      <small>* The self-rating scale was based on some testing, but obviously must be taken with a large pinch of salt.</small>

  22. A few "WTF" pictures taken at the Lofoten 2nd World War Museum last night that I thought might be of some interest:







    (Sorry the third image is on its side - blame imageshack.)

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. deathbringer

      deathbringer

      Hitler was in World War 2? I just thought he was a gay painter who faked a few moon landings.

    3. darknation

      darknation

      *dn flies to thread

    4. Technician

      Technician

      I'd actually wouldn't mind a Hitler ornament for the pure audacity of it.

  23. I've been wanting to put some money into this company for some years now, but when I was living in the UK, I didn't have a means to do so, as they are only listed in Australia (GGG.AX), Germany and North America.



    I finally did so today. I've been to Greenland several times, and like the place very much, but have also found the lack of opportunities for work and wealth creation for the Greenlanders to be quite depressing at times. So I'm very pleased to support a responsible company that is working together with the Greenland authorities to make something of the country's vast wealth of resources.

    I also feel that it has great growth potential, as the developer of the biggest rare earth metal resource outside China. And it has a cool web address: ggg.gl.

    1. TimeOfDeath666

      TimeOfDeath666

      My dad runs a company that does airborne surveys and I process data for it. He's never done a survey in Greenland, but these days it's mostly gold that his clients are looking for.

  24. Here's a HD video clip featuring five polar bears. One is a young cub, while two are adolescents. Two are mothers, keeping a watchful eye. Don't worry - they don't fight, as there was a whale carcass nearby, so there was plenty of food for all of them. Taken in Svalbard on 18th June 2010.

    http://www.4shared.com/file/GQ4_oxIQ/5pbears.html (AVCHD format - about 102 MB; a little over a minute)

    You'll need something like VLC to watch the video - you can get it here.

    A couple of stills:




    While I'm at it, the following picture was taken at Bobby Fischer's grave, in Iceland, on 13th June 2010. A local cat decided it wanted to be in on the act. :p This was about a week before a partial exhumation was performed, as widely reported in the news.

    1. Show previous comments  10 more
    2. Grazza

      Grazza

      He was a very complex character with a most unusual life. I think you'd need to have had a similar childhood (or rather lack of one) to understand how the many influences could have warped him into the person he became. The intense media interest in a kid who could "beat the Commies at their own game" in the 1950s and 1960s was phenomenal. Few non-specialist journalists have any comprehension of chess or its players, and they tended to portray him as some sort of weirdo. Once Fischer had experienced this a few times, he pretty much regarded journalists as scum and treated them accordingly. Not too smart from a PR viewpoint, but it's the sort of reaction you might expect from a kid.

      Chess was all that mattered to Fischer. To get any respect from him at all, you needed to love chess.

      Those who knew him in his younger days found him pretty normal. His "odd" behaviour was reserved for non-players (such as journalists) who had little chess background and anyone he felt was trying to exploit his genius for their own gain. Unfortunately, that included anyone who was seeking to arrange assistance for him, or events for him to compete in. Many of those people were Jewish (a lot of the wealthy New Yorkers with an interest in chess in those days were Jewish), and this lay the foundation for his later anti-Semitism.

      I don't think he was insane or autistic (even some mild form). These might have been the views expressed by those who encountered him briefly, but not by those who knew him. He was inflexible and principled to the point of being harmful to his own interests. He applied his own view of things completely logically and consistently to everything. Negotiating with Fischer was simple: you gave him everything he wanted, or you abandoned the whole thing.

      Personally, I have to be pretty grateful to Fischer. The interest in chess that he generated made the game popular enough in the West that it was possible for far more chess players to make a living from the game, and a much greater range of chess books to be commercially viable. Before Fischer, the idea of launching a "chess publishing company" would have been non-sensical. So I'd have had to get a normal job of some sort. Ugh.

    3. Danarchy

      Danarchy

      So basically, he was just a neckbeard of the chess variety. :P

      Mancubus II said:

      I just saw "Bobby Fischer Against the World", a documentary that premiered on HBO last night. I knew little of this person, quite an amazing story. I actually thought of you grazza and wanted to randomly get your thoughts on him.

      I once watched "Searching for Bobby Fischer". It was boring as fuck and had nothing to do with him (it was about some kid who played chess).

    4. Grazza

      Grazza

      Yes, just a cynical use of Fischer's name to sell some dad's otherwise unsaleable story about his moderately talented kid.

      Hey, my schoolmate was British Junior Champion once. Maybe I should write a film script about him. He's an actuary now, and doing very nicely for himself. Sounds exciting, huh? I just need to decide whether to use the name Morphy or Carlsen in the title.

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