Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sir Paul's Likely Worst Song

As Sir Paul is one of my favorite musicians, I have no issues making fun of his song Mull of Kintyre (1977). I never heard of it until just this morning when it was alluded to in a review of Star Wars, which first came out in the same year.

After not particularly caring for it, I can see why I likely haven't heard of it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Clear your Calendars: February 2nd Zilbermintz Gambit Theoretical Match


VS.


Match Arbiter Nick Panico's Description: 
MATCH HEADLINE: NM Evan Rabin (ICC: swlabr) will be taking on gambiteer Lev Zilbermintz (ICC: Levius) in a theoretical Zilbermintz Gambit Blitz match to be held on ICC, February 2, Thursday, 9PM 2012. This is a 10 game match, 5 0 time control, with Evan playing all games as white, and Lev playing all games with black. The opening moves are 1. d4 e5 2. dxe5 Nc6 3. Nf3 Nge7!?; the starting position of the Zilbermintz Gambit. Personally, I find this move to be a better reply than the historical 3...Qe7 known as the Englund Gambit or 3...d6 Blackburne Hartlaub Gambit. I look forward to watching this match and and hope we have a good turnout in the ICC room that evening. If both players agree to a short 10 minute break after Round 5 that can be accommodated.This match is promoted to spread awareness of the Zilbermintz Gambit. Evan is debating it is unsound while Lev is debating that is sound despite the claims of recent NIC author, Valery Bronznik, of 1. d4 Beating the Guerrillas.
The match is now featured as an upcoming live event on ICC: http://www.chessclub.com/activities/relays.html

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Californiacation Part 1: Northern California International/San Francisco

Last June I went to California for the 1st time when I taught at a chess camp in Pasadena, near LA. I spent the second half of this past winter break going to Cali a 2nd time, but this time, things were different: I was in Northern California, staying in Union city and playing in both the Northern California International and Golden State Open.

My journey there was an adventure by itself. Note to self: Redeye flights are madness ( I knew that already) .... However, redeyes are even more crazy when they are on New Years Day. Of course I wanted to go out in New York for your New Years Eve, however time was limited. Therefore, I left my suitcase at the Marshall Chess Club, where 40 or so maniacs were duking it out in the Insanity for a few hours when I went out to a few bars before heading on a Supper Shuttle from the Marshall at 4:30 AM. Of course I hadn't slept all night and I had to deal with a young kid sitting next to me on the flight, whose mom wouldn't quite him down... Such is life. Anyways, I did end up getting a few hours of sleep and was able to sleep a lot the next night before starting the tournament on the 2nd.

Kudos go to the organizers Arun Sharma and Ted Castro, who made the event professional and exciting.  All rounds started on time and players: the GMs and lower rated players alike had great accommodations  including food and drinks at every round, sometimes even complete meals, access to rides, and advice about the Bay area. As a sub-2200 fide player, I had to pay somewhat hefty entry fee for the event but it was certainly worth it due to the great conditions and high-level competition. Here are two of my games from the event: one one of my tough losses against IM Piasetski, whom I actually met during my spring break while playing tournaments in San Sebastian, Spain and Lille France, and my win against the talented youngster NM Daniel Gurevich.




In other chess news, any chess traveler's visit to SF is not complete without a visit to the Mechanics Institute, which hosts the world's *2nd* largest chess library. (Thanks to John Hartmann and Brian Karen from the Nassau Chess Club Facebook page, I stand corrected. The largest is the Cleveland Chess Club).  To the contrary, east coasters should not run to the Market Street outdoor chess scene, which does not compare to the likes of Washington Square Park in NY, Harvard Square near Boston, or Dupont Circle in DC. When I visited, there were only two games going on... Maybe I went the wrong day but the spot didn't seem great.

That's all the chess for now: my next blog post will likely be about my not so great appearance at the Golden State Open. For now, I shall share with you a few of the pics I took around San Francisco and elsewhere:

Okay, not really my picture, I admit it. However, I wanted to share with you Ohsa, a Thai restaurant in Embarcardero, SF, where I had one of the better meals of my trip.



A not so Kosher restaurant in the SF Ferry Building Marketplace
Alcatraz in the distance from the Fisherman's Wharf

Ghirardelli Square
The Bush Monster: This homeless man supposably makes $50,000+ a year hiding behind this bush and scaring tourists . My friend and I watched him for like 15 minutes scaring everyone: young and old and thought he was quite hilarious.
San Jose Caltrain Station
Our Chef at Benihanas in Concord near the Golden State Open: Eating there was a fun experience with a nice show and good food. 
Truly unbelievable: The guy throws up the egg in air and drops it to create this rooster!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Tommy Album Review

Hello readers.. It's been a while since I blogged and I have a lot talk about my trip to the Bay Area.. I played in the Northern California International and Golden State Open. More on those events to come soon. For now, I wanted to share a review of The Who's Tommy, I wrote for my Arts Journalism class. It was influenced by Daltrey's Tommy concert I saw in September at Boston University's Agganis Arena.  

A Review of The Who’s Tommy (1969)

            On September 17, I was one of the thousands of people astonished by Roger Daltrey’s concert at Boston University’s Agganis Arena. He played songs such as “I’m Free”, “Overture”, “Pinball Wizard” and “Cousin Kevin”. What do these songs have in common? They are all on The Who’s 1969 album, Tommy. It was a particularly successful album because of its unique genre. It is widely known as the first “rock opera”, a paradox. How often has a band as successful and famous as the Who collaborated with an opera great such as Luciano Pavarotti. On YouTube, one can find videos from a 1996 collaborative concert between Eric Clapton and Pavarotti; however, Tommy does not star any opera luminaries. To the contrary, through a series of 24 rock songs, The Who shares the story of a deaf boy named Tommy who grows up to lead a messianic movement. The album was so successful that in 1975 a movie was produced and 43 years after it was released, Daltrey has sold out a number of shows on his 2011-2012 tour, in which he played the full album each time. Tommy is a fantastic album that classic rock aficionados and others alike should appreciate because of both the collaboration of Pete Townshend’s guitar riffs and Daltrey’s voice, and its creative opera form.   
            One aspect that makes Tommy a unique album that is worthwhile to be in anyone’s musical collection is the melding of the guitarist Pete Townshend’s riffs and Daltrey’s voice. The first of Townshend’s phenomenal riffs occurs in the album’s opener “Overture”. Its upbeat tone with a rapid tempo sets the tone for many of the following songs. Another striking riff occurs in “Amazing Journey/ Sparks”. A common thread is the amount of repetition Townshend uses. In each of these songs, he repeats a heavy sounding riff many times. In contrast, in songs such as “Eyesight to the Blind”, he plays higher-pitched notes repeatedly to provide a sort of yin-yang event with touches of both of light and dark, thus producing a balanced mixture of positive and negative sounding effects. However, Townshend did not provide these effects alone; he required the help of the lead vocalist Daltrey. While Daltrey’s recent tour starred Townshend’s brother on guitar, not Townshend himself, it conveyed the importance of Daltrey’s ability to hit softer notes as in “Tommy Can You Hear Me?” and hard notes in others such as “Welcome”.
            While the combination of Townshend’s guitar playing and Daltrey’s in Tommy is exceptional, it is not what makes it better than other The Who albums. Other terrific The Who albums such as “My Generation” and “It’s Hard” have similar quality. On the other hand, while these albums have songs that relate to each other, they do not convey stories. In contrast, if Tommy is listened in its entirety one can grasp a clear plot. For example, the album’s plot begins, when Tommy is born in the second song  “It’s a Boy”.  As he grows up, he faces certain obstacles such as deafness as conveyed in “ You Didn’t Hear it” and drug influences as seen in “Acid Queen”. To the contrary, he develops a talent in pinball as portrayed in “Pinball wizard”. Especially as the Who performed “Pinball Wizard” at the 2010 Superbowl, it is clear many people have heard of at least some of these songs in Tommy; however a far smaller number have likely listened to the album in its entirety.  After seeing Daltrey perform all of the songs in chronological order, I can assure it is worthwhile for anyone to obtain the album and experience its complete story.