Saturday, December 24, 2011

Scattermusing While Wondering Whatever Happened to Billy Kilmer

Ah yes, the Washington Redskins during the 1970s.  George Allen and the "Over the Hill Gang".  As a Cowboy fan, I got to see the Redskins at least twice per season.  Ah yes, the hated Redskins.  With the possible exception of coach George Allen, no Redskin was more hated than Billy Kilmer, the worst quarterback to ever beat the Cowboys on a consistent basis.  And the worst passer the league as ever known.  Until Tim Tebow.  Oh, the memories.


After watching Tim Tebow the last couple of weeks, I have to state that he is NOT overrated.  He hands off the ball as good as any quarterback in the league.


If you don't believe there are a lot of lonely people out there, just go in a chat room on Christmas eve or Christmas day.


Speaking of Christmas, thank goodness THAT's over.  I don't think I could stand another moment of peace, joy, and goodwill toward men.


If you ever consider becoming a vegetarian and can't seem to find the motivation, try watching the movie "Fast Food Nation."  It will make you want to stop eating beef.  Or at least, never eat a fast food burger again.


And then there was the woman who came home from her doctor's appointment and flitted about from room to room with an energy level her husband had never witnessed before.  So he asked her, "What are you so happy about?"
She replied, "The doctor said I have the breasts of an 18 year old."
The husband quipped, "What did he say about your 45 year old ass?"
The wife said, "Your name never came up."

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Patzer Chronicles, Vol. II

This was a sobering week in my quest for 2000.  I played 3 live games online while also continuing with my correspondence games.  Here's how things panned out:

First, correspondence.  One of the four games I am involved in got aborted by my opponent.  A player can abort a game within the first 10 moves without affecting the ratings of either player.  The other 3 games are still in progress, all in the opening phase.  I think I have an advantage in one of them.  My opponent appears to have blundered with a bishop move.  He now has had to move the bishop back to avoid losing it.  That has given me, as black, a tempo and a lead in development.  I also have a stronger pawn center.  I haven't found any tactical combinations that he could use to hurt me, so I think I may be alright.  Still, I can't help thinking it's a trap.  Yes, I'm paranoid, but is it paranoia if they really are out to get you?

In the other two games, things are looking very dicey.  I am black in both the games and I think my position is solid, but any inaccurate play could doom me.

Which brings me to the next aspect of correspondence play.  I seem to be spending a considerable amount of time evaluating my next move.  Is that normal?  How much time does the average player spend?  I'm not talking about how quickly I make my move.  I mean the amount of time spent looking at the position and calculating variations.  Should I be spending that much time on it?

I am not really concerned (much) about spending too much time on it.  This is simply my curiosity about how I compare to other players in this aspect.  I am enjoying the time that I spend analyzing.  It stimulates my brain and, hopefully, increases my education in chess theory.  But I am still curious about the amount of time.  So any correspondence chess players out there, please comment on how long you spend (just guess if you have to) on calculating your next move, especially in the opening phase of the game.

Now for live chess.  I played one 10 minute game, with black, on FICS and was unceremoniously crushed.  This dropped my blitz rating to 1011.  The other two games were played on  The first game I played, a win with white, was against a computer opponent rated 1188.  It was a 5 minute game, which I won in 29 moves and achieved a rating of 1361.  However, that was short lived.  My next game was with black against a human player in a 10 minute time control.  I lost in 27 moves and my rating plummeted to 1180.  So now I have a record of 1 win and 1 loss on

The losses have really started to hurt my confidence.  And the one win this week really doesn't help much because it was against a low rated computer opponent.  At this rate, the quest for 2000 could run into my retirement years.  Oh well, if it was easy everyone would do it.

I have the entire week between Christmas and New Year's day off from work.  So I am going to try to play more chess, especially at longer time controls.  I would like to play a minimum of 15 minutes/game and see what I can do with my standard rating.  I may also get in on some tournaments.  They have several every day at  The time controls vary from 1 minute up to 15 minutes per game.  The tournaments run from 3 to 7 rounds.  Most likely, they are Swiss system or round robin type of tournaments.  I think it will be a good way to test my skills and get some seasoning in the online chess world.  Plus, it will be fun!

So until next time, happy mating!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

The Patzer Chronicles: Vol I

If you didn't already know by reading my previous post, Quest for 2000, I am on a quest to improve my chess game and, hopefully, reach a rating online of 2000 ELO.  Now that is a lofty goal, and will take a great deal of study and focus.  2000 is expert status as chess goes.  Not easy to attain.  But, if it was easy, everyone would do it.

So anyway, this is the first of a series of posts that will chronicle my journey.  Enjoy!

Well, this week I only managed to play one live game online, a 5 minute game, with the black pieces, against a 1174 rated opponent.  I lost.  I tend not to play games with time controls less than 10 minutes (though I prefer 15) because it doesn't seem to give me enough time to think and I end up losing on time, which I did in this game.  Although, chances are I would have lost anyway.

I blundered away a knight early in the game.  Although I did manage to get some counterplay on the king side and eventually won the piece back.  But my queen side was a shambles and my opponent managed a passed pawn that, due to time pressure, I couldn't figure out a way to stop from promoting.

However, this wasn't the only chess I played this week.  I reaquainted myself with two websites that I had registered at a couple of years ago, but had forgotten about. and  Here, you can not only play live, but correspondence chess as well.  Correspondence chess, also known as Postal chess, was once played through the mail service.  Players would mail moves back and forth to each other.  Today, with the internet, play is done online or through e-mail.  It is a very interesting way to play.  There is no real time pressure to speak of.  Time controls run anywhere from 1 to 5 days per move, or more.  Also, depending on the rules of the web host, you can use reference materials, such as opening books to plan your strategy and help analyze the position.  You can also set up the position on a board and move the pieces around to try different combinations.  In this sense, correspondence chess is more of a learning experience than a competition.

Some web sites allow the use of computer chess engines to analyze positions.  But I don't think I will use one even if it is allowed.  I want to learn to analyze and calculate on my own.  I don't want to depend on an engine to find my moves, even if I lose without it.  The idea, for me, is to improve my chess skills.  Using a machine to evaluate a move or position won't help me much with that.

So, I am now a correspondence player.  This is my first foray into this style of chess.  I currently have 4 games in progress, 2 at each of the sites above.  That is another advantage of correspondence chess.  With the long time between moves, you can manage to play several games at one time.  It is very early in my games, but so far I am enjoying correspondence.  I wasn't sure that I would.  I didn't think I had the patience to wait several days for my opponent to move or spend extra time evaluating the position.  But it has been rather pleasant.

By the way, I highly recommend both and  They both have great features and massive resources for chess lovers to enjoy, both novice and master. is run by Tryfon Gavriel, better known as Kingscrusher to chess enthusiasts.  Tryfon is a FIDE Candidate master and a British regional master who produces youtube videos analyzing chess games and teaching chess principles.  He even does commentary on his own live games while he's playing them!  I highly recommend subscribing to his channel.

One more shameless plug.  If you are looking for a chess forum and game database, look no further than  Chessgames has a database of over 600,000 games, each with it's own "kibitzing" page.  It is free to register and post on the many forums, but I would recommend becoming a premium member.  It opens up a world of wonderful features, all for the very reasonable price of $29US per year.  The members and visitors of this site are very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful.  Many professional chess players, including grandmasters comment on the forum.  As a premium member, you can even have your own personal forum!  The amount of  features available is too long to list here.  Check it out!

That's all for now.  I am going to try to post once a week to update my progress and define my goals and plans.  This week, I will try to play more live games online.  If anyone is interested in playing against me, I usually play at FICS, or you can try or

Until next time, happy mating!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Quest for 2000 (but I'll settle for 1500)

I am a chess player.  It is a game that I find both enjoyable and perplexing.  The vast amount of opening theory alone is enough to fill a bank of super computers.  But I suppose that is what I love about it.  It is a game of unlimited challenge.  It is practically unsolvable (though the computer engines are hard at work trying to prove otherwise).

I don't get much of a chance to play chess.  When I do, it is usually against one of the personalities in Chessmaster 9000, the computer game.  Practically no one I know in real life plays chess.  So when I grow weary of silicon-based opponents, I turn to the internet.

My favorite place to play (read: the only place I play) is the Free Internet Chess Server, or FICS.  As the name implies, it is free to play here and it is always easy to find a game, no matter what your skill level or time control preference.  And, if you don't want to use the web interface on FICS, they offer several graphical interfaces that are powerful and easy to use.  I use Babaschess which is the most popular of the interfaces, but there are lots of choices.  There are even ones for mobile phones.

To play chess on FICS, you don't even have to register, you can play as a guest.  However, if you want to play rated games, and thereby earn a rating, and play tournaments, then registration is required.  I play under the handle of DissidentAggresor.  Although I have been a member at FICS since 2007, I have only managed to play 8 games (7 rated).  That's not exactly an accelerated pace.  As I said, I rarely manage to find time for chess, especially against living, breathing opponents.  I think that's why I play so much against my computer.  Time is not as much of a factor.  I can pause the game or start and stop whenever I want.

Anyway, my rating on FICS is presently 1282 for blitz (5 games) and 1583 for standard (2 games).  My record for blitz (any game less than 15 minutes per player) is 3 wins, 1 loss, 1 draw.  The 3 wins came in two 10-minute games and one 12-minute game.  In standard time controls, I managed 1 win and 1 loss (both 15 minute games).  I prefer standard time controls to blitz because I'm a slow thinker.  But it is easier to find opponents at the shorter time controls.  Still I try to play a mix of game lengths.

So, why am I telling you all this?  Because I have decided to play more chess online.  I want to improve my chess.  I want to achieve a rating of 2000 in either blitz or standard or both.  Now a rating of 2000 is a lofty goal in chess, even on an online chess server.  So I threw in the caveat that I will settle for 1500.  Now, my current standard rating is 1583, but because I have played so few games, it most likely isn't very accurate.  My ratings would be what FIDE, the World Chess Federation, calls provisional.  FIDE requires that you play at least 20 rated games before your rating becomes standard.  So I have a ways to go.

So let the quest begin!  I will continue to post updates as I go along.  My goal is to play at least one game every week, hopefully more.  I guess you could say it's my move.