Friday, February 26, 2010

Lots of Chess, Music and Other Fun Stuff

Ive been a bit of a hectic man this week... an IGS exam, a financial accounting exam and an anthropology paper). Of course, I played a whole lot of chess last week over break and did not get much work done. Heres a quick overview of last week's tournaments:

1) St John's Masters- Seemingly Outright Disaster
I arrived in NY late the night before from Parsippany but had the chance to sleep in. I felt like I had more energy and thought I should take advantage of playing in the Masters considering I was in NY. It turns out 8 out of the 17 players were crazy ones who just finished three days of chess in NJ....
In my first game, I blundered a pawn early on in his usual Nimzovitch Caro-Kann and never really got back in the game.. Not a great game but live goes on...
Then in Round 2, I played Miles Hinson, an expert I have a rather dismal score against...He obtained no advantage in the Alekhine but after some inaccuracies, I reached a worst position and actually offered a draw. A few moves later, he offered me one in an equal rook and pawn endgame. Of course I rejected trying to win, and ultimately lost a king and pawn end game that was still drawn... No good: 0-2 :(

Round 3: I played a usual nemeses Leif Pressman, whom I played a "mere" 77 times, even more than the 63 games I played against Bonin:). Heres the game that was actually a very complicated struggle. I sacked my queen for a two pieces and reached a slightly worse endgame but unfortunately did not manage to hold as we were in mutual time pressure. Here is the game:



So over all a rather dismal tournament.. I can't remember the last time I went 0-3 in a tournament and got a full point bye. So what does a crazy chess player as my self do: quit chess- no( as much as I thought I might for a few minutes), take a long break from chess- A sane chess player might, but not me :), Play three more events for the week: YES!

Thursday Night:

A. Bankers League: I played board 3 for the Delfies against the Transit Authority team. We had a rather strong line up with GM Yudasin on board 1, FM Salimbagat on 2, myself on 3, and expert and our team co-captain Dwayne Clark. Yudasin quickly beat an a-player- one point in the bag. I played another A-player who to be honest surprisingly played better than I expected. I had a decent attacking position out of a French Tarrasch and he defended rather well and the game eventually ended in a draw after he was actually slightly better.. Fortunately, both Clark and Salimbagat won so we won the match 3.5-.5. Thanks to the team, we are kept our #1 spot in the Bankers League standings:)

B. 10 Grand Prix Points Tonight!: I did my normal two-bye stunt after finishing my game in the Bankers League. Fortunately, it worked it out well, beating an 1800 Stuart Chagrin who drew me a few weeks ago and beating Moshe Uminer, who I have a slightly worse record against as I used to play him alot when I was substantially lower rated. 57 bucks went in the wallet:)

Excellent Tournament: NY February Action

So the night before, I was out at the Clapton/Beck Concert ( see previous post) and I was rather exhausted after the show ... Again my addiction got the better of me... I was not going to not play but when I woke up at 11:30 I decided I would take a bye in the first round and play.. I figured I was leaving to Boston the next day and it couldn't hurt to play another tournament... End Result: Awsome

In the first round, I beat a B-player rather easily out of the Alekhine. Then I played one of the better games I played in a while against IM Bonin. In 2009, I had a rather dismal .5/9 against Bonin and I haven't beaten him since the first time I did back in March, 2008 so I feel like I was bound to finally beat him! Luckily things worked my way:) I can finally ay I was truely"Bad the the Bone". :


Here's the game:


After this previous game, I drew FM Asa Hofmann in a sideline of the Alekhine and beat Jake Miller in the last round with the London System, avoiding a lot of the sharp theory that he does know, as he beat me in the Marshall Championship. Not a bad day in the office: gained 32 rating points putting me just 2 pts away from my peak ( 2186) and 16 points under master. Hopefully, this time I can make the push. I am considering playing in Sturbridge next week but as of now unsure. We shall see.

One last chess thing: I read the first two chapters of Zenon Franco's new book Counter Attack. So far, I think it is a great book. The first chapter deals with Lasker's exceptional defensive abilities regarding suuch important concepts as admitting one's own mistakes. The second chapter deals with refuting premature attacks, in which he will use supplementary games with attacks that do work with similar looking attacks that failed and compare them to see why they were successful or not. I just started reading the third chapter which deals by "blows by blow". I'll do more of a view oas I read more of the book.

Some Great Music
First of all id like to share a video my dad sent me of some excellent footage of a Crosby, Stills and Nash and Young jam session of "Down by the River" back in 1969:

Man, I wish I could of seen CSN back in the day.. Their voices are still great but not what they once were. Also I still have to see Young live at one point. Stills and Young have an excellent solo face-off in this jam.

As I was searching for youtube videos regarding Clapton and Beck. I came across a a concert just last week he did with Yoko Ono and her/John's son Sean Lennon that I had no idea about it. There wasn't any really great footage available but heres the best I saw:

Thats all for now... Im looking forward to celebrating Purim at Brandeis this weekend.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Clapton/Beck Concert!

Overall Review: Excellent but Could be Better

I certainly had high expectations for this show, considering I've seen both artists live within the last year and they both still sound great. Sure, Clapton's voice is not what it used to be, but it still sounds great. In fact for some of the blues songs, his heavier voice arguably even sounds better. For this reason, Clapton chose to play almost all blues songs. A few years ago he admitted in an interview his "slow-hand" is gradually withering away.


1. Beck's Set

Admittedly, I do not know nearly as much about Beck as Clapton... Even if you do no know his music well, his music is rather difficult to understand as his music is one of a kind. I can't think of an artist who has very similar music to his.. If you can think of one, please share:)

Beck started his set with "Eternity's Breath" followed by "Stratus"... Certainly not a bad start- two of his possibly greatest songs. He went on to play another 9 songs.. At times, I would be so focussed on his soloing and so amazed at his incredible band that I wouldn't even realize he would be on a new song.. If I had to criticize Beck, I would say his transitions between songs could be more smooth.

Of course, I could not wait for his AMAZING rendition of "A Day in the Life", which did win a grammy! I heard him play it last year at MGM Foxwoods but at the time admittedly did not appreciate it as much as I should have.. This time on the other hand, I was certainly hyped up!


2. Clapton's Set
First of all, I was amazed to see how Clapton let his hair grow! Just in June, it was short.

My one real criticism against Clapton's set is he didn't play some of his great songs. In his set in London last week, he played his acoustic version of "Layla", something I was certainly looking forward to. Possibly, however he thought he wasn't on his top form when he did and didn't want to play it again... Heres a video I found on youtube. The sound isn't great but its better than nothing:


I seen him play it with Derek Trucks in 2006 and I saw him play the electric version with Winwood last June. Personally, I think the acoustic version is better, although that is certainly debatable... Any opinions?

Eric does however certainly still does have the blues down pat.. Hey BB King is still touring at 84.. Lets see Eric do it as well!
He did great acoustic blues solos on his opener "drifitin" and " Running on Faith" among others.. In addition, he did a great electric solo in " Tell the Truth", although I don't think it lived up to his performance of the same song with Winwood a few months ago. Although, having an excellent piano player like Winwood certainly helped, not to criticize Clapton's keyboardist last night.



3. Beck and Clapton's Set/Encore


One thing that shocked me was the fact they did two Cream songs: "Outside Woman's blues" and "Crossroads". Other than the Cream Reunion in 05 I never heard Clapton play Cream songs live. It was interesting hearing Eric sing the vocals for each of these songs rather than Jack Bruce. Overall, it was a great set, the part of the concert I was really looking forward to as I pretty much heard most of the songs each of them did individually before live.




So overall, it was a fantastic show as always, with such great guitarists. Its amazing these guys are still touring: both at age 65. Both of them could have retired a long time ago but as they continue to go, it seems only right to keep supporting them as they go on tour. Next show coming up: ALLMAN BROTHERS at the UNITED PALACE THEATER: stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

USATE Wrap-Up with Photos!

Final Round: Surprising Domination

A second opponent played the modern against me. To a certain degree I was excited as I fortunately looked up the theory after my second round game, but at the same time it meant I wasn't going to get to use one of the many other white openings I prepared for before the tournament (not to be disclosed!). This game was a little bit of a roller-coaster. I had a substantial advantage out of the opening, blundered a pawn and then forcing him to sack heavy material to avoid checkmate:



Plotkin found a nice tactic, which I completely missed as i was looking at it. By sacking a bishop he forced Zhurbinsky to give him substantial material

It wasn't a surprise that the "Panic Button" on board 4 took another customer first class to London with a nice knight sac on f7.. thats the to Bd 4 6-0 board prize for him!

Top 5 Winners:

Now, we had confirmed the match point 3-0 but knew if we wanted any chance to squeeze in the top 5 we would need excellent tiebreaks. Before this round, we had one 3 games with 3.5-.5 margins and one with 3-1, so we knew we had good tiebreaks so far. Therefore, Paul would not settle for piece as he gradually took home the full point in an instructive bishop vs knight endgame. A sweep isn't a bad way to end the tournament!

Finally, we waited until the standings were out as we knew we had a decent chance to get either 4th or 5th on tie breaks. Congrats to the winners!: The Cambridge Springers; William Kelleher, Joe Fang, Leonard Morrissey, and Anatoly Levin ( first one tiebreaks), Hunter High School: Michael Thaler, Alec Getz, Aaron Landesman, Jonathan Williams ( 2nd) and Our Weiner is Looking for Mate ( Robert Hess, Andrew Ryba, Zachary Weiner, Richard River (3rd). Unfortunately, we just missed out on a prize by a mere 4 tiebreak points! but congrats to the top 2 5-1 teams: Rochester Chess Center#1 and Inglorious Patzers.. One thing I am certainly proud of is 4/5 of the top 5 teams were NYERS!!!!! Another thing to take note- only one of these teams had a GM- Unless you are GGGg, Stacked line ups are not the answer to win USATE!

Over dinner last evening, Paul, Nick and I briefly mentioned the chance of us using the same team next year and it wasn't until then that i realized I will have to miss my first USATE since my first in 2003, assuming I get accepted to study in Tel Aviv! For all of you that just play in the USATE every year and no other tournaments see you in February, 2012! Anyways: here some pics:






For more pictures, see http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2034984&id=1381380278.

Monday, February 15, 2010

More of USATE/ A few other stuff for those non-chess playing readers:)

Rd 3: The Domino Theory

This round was not meant to be. As I mentioned in the previous post, this match had an element of psychological warfare. Last year, I lost to almost the identical team and wanted revenge. Paul wanted to show he was a solid board 1 as the team swapped him with Dylan McClain. On the other hand, that team, who is now 4-0 in contention for another title, wanted to not only be repeat winners but to prove Dylan was a good board 1.

Out of the opening, I got a slightly better position against Brian Hulse. Then, I failed to abide by simple chess fundamentals and instead of making a simple developing move, went for complications and outright hung a rook- a disaster, yet one of my common problems in chess, going into complications when I don't have to. Heres the horrendous "blunderful" game



So, this is where my domino theory comes into affect: Ok, its not mine, its Eisenhower's against the Commies in 1954, but Ill adapt it to a chess team. One player blunders, the rest of his teammates blunder

After I made this blunder, David fell for a nice trick, in which Libardo Rueda won his queen so things weren't looking good for "Lordy Lordy I can't believe she's 40". If we wanted to just tie the match, both Nick and Paul needed to win. Paul had a considerable advantage out of an advanced- Caro Kann but Dylan defended well and built up significant counter-play. At this point Dylan offered Paul a draw and I can't blame him for declining it as taking it would basically be resigning the match. Unfortunately, Dylan's counter-play turned the tables and ended the game in Dylan's favor.

The "domino theory" did not effect all of us though- Nick ended up turning the tables in his own game. Most of the game he had an equalish but cramped position and we figured the game would just cater out to a draw; however, in the end Nick ended up winning a pawn and the game.

Rd 4: Boston/NY United vs New York

It was my team of two Bostonians and two NYers against 4 New Yorkers. I happened to play 3/4 of our opposing team in New York, two of them multiple times.

The first game to finish was Paul's against Nicholas Ryba, a fellow expert from New York, that I do not have a great score against. Paul played a symmetrical English and ultimately couldn't manage to win..... Happens sometimes when white is playing for a draw from the start.

Next, Nick took his opponent to London and Plotkin also won a nice game with black. At the point, the match was already decided as we had 2.5/3 but I told him to play it out for a while since if we want a chance to place in the top 5, we would need excellent tiebreaks.

In my game against Loren Weiss. In a Rubinstein French, Weiss had double f-pawns and we exchanged queens rather quickly. Ultimately, it was a long technical endgame, which led to a bishop ending where my outside past pawn and his week f pawns proved decisive:


Rd 5: Third team in a Row that I knew!

I dont know about you all but I don't particularly like it when I pay to travel to a chess tournament and end up playing a bunch of players that I am friends with... Well in this tournament, in rounds 3-5 we played three teams that I am friendly with... THis time around it was Dale Sharp, the two Quistorffs, and Alexander Katz on board 3. I slept a little late and had to check out so I ended up coming to the board 40 minutes late: a typical last day morning round...

I played the Caro-Kann for the first time in about a year as I knew Kim almost exclusively plays the advanced variation; however, sure enough he outsmarted me and played the classical for supposably the first time in his life! 7 moves went by and Kim offered me a draw. I saw Nick and Paul were winning and I was kind of tired so I figured it couldn't hurt to take a draw.. As I just started writing this post, I was talking to Leif Pressman on AIM and he told me I was crazy for taking a draw so early and I told him it only made sense as it basically guaranteed us the match point. In addition, I knew Kim is a pretty sol.d players Then he answered since we weren't any longer in contention to win the tournament, I should just play chess..... anyways to each is own.. What do you all think of taking draws for the team? When to do it , when to not?

Sure enough Nick and Paul both won and David ended up drawing by the time the match was already clinched in our favor. So there's one game to go... Hopefully we can win and tie for 3rd, even better if we can actually place in the top 5 on tiebreaks. Expect a post later as a wrap up..

No I didn't forget:: Nows heres the few other non- chess stuff:

1) Study Abroad Update: I submitted the application last night- Tel Aviv in the Spring of 2011: Here I come!!

2) http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1142653.html : Fascinating Article on an Israeli man who was charged on accounts of Polygamy. Just the other day in Introduction to Anthropology, we had to read an essay about the Kung! in the Kalahari Dessert where it is legal to have more than one wife, so I found this article particularly interesting. What do you think of multiple wives in other countries? Is it unethical? Should we in the US or those in Israel, where polygamy is illegal be able to judge the Kung! for their laws?
3) NY Tonight!: So Im leaving to NY tonight.. Got a long week of chess ahead... NY Masters tomorrow night, Bankers League Match Thursday night, possibly g/30 on Saturday... but best of all CLAPTON AND BECK FRIDAY NIGHT!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

First day of USATE!

We, Lordy Lordy I can't believe she's 40, won the first round 3.5-.5 after I gave Doyle my Metrocard to get one of my boss's new endgame book: Pandolfini's "Endgame workshop: principles for the practicle player".
We won the second match by the same margin against a 1900 team. However, now were in for a tough match against "Hort Locker", made up of Dylan Mclain, Bryan Hulse, Libardo Rueda and Alan Price. Last year, my "Working on a team" with Jeramiah Williams, Abby Marshall and James Critelli lost to them in round 4. Although last year Paul Macyntre was on their winning team and now he is our board 1 so it should be a very balanced and interesting match. Lets go: Lordy Lordy I can't believe she's 40!!!
Below is my first round game, and some pics:




Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Excellent Videos: Tina Turner/Eric Clapton

For some random reason that I am not quite aware of, in the past two days the song "Proud Mary" often known as "Rolling on the river". As I searched for videos on youtube, I admittedly did not realize it was originally a Creedence Clearwater Revival Song as I always thought it was Turner's.

Turner does cover it extremely well though. Here a live cover of hers in 1971:


Surprisingly to me, I also enjoyed Beyonce's tribute to Tina Turner at the 2005 Kennedy Center Honors:


Lastly, I saw an incredible video of Turner and Clapton playing his 1986 song " Tearing us Apart" Along with Elton John, Phill Collins and Market Knopfler. One of the reasons Clapton is one of my favorite musicians of all time, is he is not only a tremendous blues and rock guitarists, but many of his songs are personal. I only know learned that this song was yet another song about Pattie Boyd as it is about her group of friends that suggested they break up.. I still find it fascinating that Clapton and Harrison remained good friends after Clapton married her.

Only 10 more days till Clapton and Beck! and only 3 days till Parsippany!

Super Youtube Videos: Tina Turner/Eric Clapton

For some reason that Im unware of the song "Rolling on a River" became stuck in my head, so I looked it up on Youtube and found an awsome live performance Turner did in 1971: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brdqJ29PQac

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Boylston Quads Today

Boylston Today
I won the top quad at the Boylston today. I won my first two games against Jacob Fauman and Neil Cousin and held Carey Theil to a draw in the last round (See games below). Also the two guys I went with won their quads! Eric Lawless won his quad 3-0! Michael Raphael tied for first with 2/3. That quad was truly amazing- 4 1800s and in the first two rounds, all games were drawn.. not something that usually happens other than in super GM tournaments..

In my first round game, I gained a considerable advantage albeit forgetting most of the theory in the line. However, I played the dubious move 16.h4 which gave black considerable counter counterplay. However as Fauman got into time pressure he ultimately walked into a mating net and ended up flagging.. However, just as I saw the MSA, I noticed he recently made expert- Congrats to him!


My second round game was a little more straight forward- my opponent wasn't particularly prepared on the Alekhine and I received an advantage early on which led to winning the exchange. Although my technique as far from perfect and the game and lasted way longer than it should have (63 moves), I never did lose the advantage.


Lastly again Theil, I was in the typical last round situation, where all you need is a draw to win the tournament.. a situation which can be mentally challenging as it is often tempting to play passively for a draw. Theil played a side line of the Alekhine,which is supposed to lead to an equal endgame, which did occur. He fought hard to win, even sacking a bishop for two pawns as you can see, but ultimately the draw was in hand either way.


So overall it was a pretty good tournament- I did get a little lucky in the first round, but thats life.. Im look forward to the USATE next week! I know there's going to be plenty of good teams as always, but I'll be going for my second USATE title!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Tiny bit of Chess and school/ Grammys/ Other Concerts

So, before i go on to talk about music, Ill rant a bit about chess and coaching at the cities this past weekend. I went to New York just for the weekend to be one of the Browning coaches. After attending Hebrew class and volleyball on Friday, I ventured out in the cold to the Commuter rail into Boston to catch a 3:00 PM bus. Unfortunately, the 2:08 commuter rail was 40(!) minutes late, ie. there was no way I would make the bus. I know the CR runs late all the time but not 40 minutes... I accounted it might come 10 minutes late so I would get to Porter square around 2:30 to get to South Station at 2:50 but to no avail:(. As many of you should know by now, I do not get along very well with the Boston transit system. Anyhow, fortunately enough I did not have to pay extra on the 4:00 bus.

So, I got into New York pretty late at around 9:15 and did some work and went to sleep as I had to wake up nice and early to get to the New Yorker at 8, a process that did happen to repeat itself the next day. Overall, I enjoyed working there; as it is enjoyable working with the kids and Browning as whole did rather well. However, it was somewhat of a rough commute and I am exhausted now, as I almost fell asleep twice in Anthropology and Introduction to International Global Studies today; however, not to worry, I shall sleep late tomorrow as I have no classes then:). I dropped the International Political Economy course as I still have a heavy course load this semester. In addition, I did not particularly like the fact that the whole grade or at least 85 percent of it's grade was based on one essay and one final. What do you think of a course having so few assessments? anyways enough of school and chess talk..... A lot of music to catch up on!

MUSIC
A few days after the USATE(only two weeks away!) is Clapton/Beck! My friend Jon and I lodge seats right as closest to the floor as you can get:) Here's some pics of Clapton/ Winwood and their supporting band the last time I saw Clapton in June at the Izod Center in the Meadowlands:





As I was searching my pics of this concert, I came across a few from other concerts that I thought id share:

1) Allman Brothers at Mountain Jam!


Of course I was happy to see Greg Allman, one of the best song-writers and rock/blues musicians of all time wearing a Yankees hat:)

2) Soulfarm at Southpaw: one of my favorite Isreali rock bands... Ok admittedly they began in New York but their music is heavily Isreali influenced


I did not get a chance to watch the Grammys as I was on the bus going back to Boston; although I am happy to realize that I was fortunate to see several of the winners live this year. I heard the winner of Best Traditional Folk Album, Loudon Wainright with "High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project", as he started for Hot Tuna in December. He did sign my copy of his 2008 album,"Recovery", but unfortunately he was sold out of his new album.. would of been pretty cool to have a signed Grammy winning cd... o well :(..


Another shoutout goes to one of best up-and coming blues guitarists Derek Trucks for winning best contemporary blues album with his new album "Already Free" I saw him several times now, with the Allman brothers a few times, with his own band at Mountain Jam, and with Clapton back in 06.. hes a great soloist who is also a fantastic slide guitar player.. If you haven't listened to him, be sure to check him out!



I also can't forget to congratulate ACDC for winning best Hard rock Performance ( War machine) .. I was there at Giants Stadium- was pretty amazing with Angus's typical walks and screaming; however, I honestly don't know if should win a Grammy. but great for them! Angus deserves it for still going on tour! However, I definitely think Paul Mcartney deserved a Grammy for Best Rock Performance for his opening at Citifield rather than Kings of Leon. Mcartney wasn't even nominated.

Last but not least,Jeff Beck won Best Instrumental Performance for his absolutely fantastic rendition of "A day in the Life". I saw him play at the MGM Foxwoods last year and I absolutely agree with the Grammy's on that one too. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrD9-3R4-Vc ( That was the ny show) He plays with the also amazing 18 year old bassist/ protege Tal Wilkenfeld from Australia. Admittedly not until after that show did I realize I also so her play two years earlier with the Allman Brothers at the Beacon, which does lead me to a sad point that the Allman Brothers have been booted by Circus Solei which after playing month long runs there every year since 1989. However, I will go seem them in March at the United Palace Theater up in Washington Heights.. Ive never been there before.. Expect a post in the future about that:)

One last thing: check out http://www.facebook.com/#/event.php?eid=257539231007&index=1. Many bands recorded for a 41 song cd that costs $10 with all money going to AmericaCares for Haiti.. I ordered a copy for myself today. Its great music and more importantly as you all know a great cause.