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Month: July 2016

San Antonio Chess Championship this weekend!

This Saturday and Sunday, chess players from across South Texas will converge on Methodist Hospital’s John Hornbeak Building to compete in the San Antonio Chess Championship! Over 50 players are currently registered for the event, which will feature the city’s best taking on…the city’s best! Yours truly originally had plans to attend the event to cover it here on Campfire Chess, but the same commitments that have emaciated posts on this site for July will likely keep me from attending. I am going to make an attempt to stop by to grab some photos and check on the standings, but unfortunately will not be able to cover in-depth like I wanted. In any case, if you are in the San Antonio area this weekend, hold a valid US Chess membership ID and want to compete for a chance at a variety of prizes, stop by!

Here is a complete list of details courtesy of the San Antonio Chess Club:

Location: Methodist Hospital John Hornbeak Building
          3rd Floor
          4450 Medical Dr.
          San Antonio, TX 78259

Time controls: Rds. 1 and 2 G/90|5, Rds. 3-5 G/120|5

Prizes: $1525 for full entry and 1/2 option prizes
        $500 1st, $300 2nd, U2100 $125, U2000 $125,
        U1800 $125, U1600 $125, U1400 $125, U1200/Unr. $100.
        Trophy to top Bexar County Resident.

Entry Fees: $60 at site

$5 discount to Club members paying full entry

Registration: 8:30-9:30 am

Rounds: Saturday 10am, 2 pm, and 6pm; Sunday 9am - 2pm

Half point bye any 1 round. Notice must be made before Round 2 is paired.

Entries: San Antonio Chess Club
         PO BOX 690576
         San Antonio, TX 78269-0576

Contact info: sanantoniochess.com
              elvisclassic@sbcglobal.net

Pay online using PayPal. Click on "Send", then enter our club's email address
(sanantoniochessclub@gmail.com) and your appropriate entry fee in "Amount".
Then click Continue followed by choosing "Friends or Family" (to bypass PayPal fees).
Please include a note with participant's name and USCF ID, rating, and mailing
address should we have to mail you a prize.
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A Trip Down Memory Lane

Have you ever had a day where you found yourself looking through old photos or browsing through the rarely touched bowels of your hard drive reminiscing about things, people, and times that have come and gone? As a chess fanatic and lover of all things baseball, I am a deeply sentimental and reflective man. The other day I reached a rare moment where I was not faced with accomplishing a task or other responsibility, which gave me an opportunity to mindfully browse the web in search of fond memories.

I entered the online world in 1994 after I convinced my parents to purchase dial-up internet service through Netaccess of Virginia, a now-defunct local service provider that delivered blazing 28.8 kbps to our rural home through our telephone line. Prior to that, my network experience was confined to BBS and local area networks on Apple IIgs and a Tandy Sensation PC at my school. Needless to say that I caused quite a few arguments for tying up the phone line so much, but my recent foray across the web reminded me that although the internet was painfully slow in those days, there was a special flare to it. Among the most influential components on the web was Yahoo, which has unfortunately faded into increasing obscurity. From that portal, the web seemed to literally spider out to places like Tripod, Xoom, and an old favorite of mine, Geocities.

My first website was hosted on my ISP’s web server and was mainly a list of my favorite movies, music, and exploration of HTML. It was cool seeing my stuff published online, but the process of submitting files via e-mail and waiting on an update (which was often done incorrectly) was too cumbersome to sustain. Thank God for Tripod and Xoom, a combination of which became my web home for the next 10 or so years. From 1996 until I graduated high school in 2000, I ran Fire Walk With Me: The Unofficial Twin Peaks Home Page that amassed hundreds of thousands of visitors and was consistently ranked among the top Twin Peaks (not the restaurant) websites on the net. In those days, IRC, AIM, and ICQ were the ways to stay in contact with friends and family; social media did not exist…it was a simpler time. It is this time that I found myself missing most of all as I browsed through the countless articles, blog posts, and reflective pages seeking to preserve the history of the world’s first global network. It can be hard for many to understand, but it was a thrill to pick out a home and a street on Geocities just as it is today to post a meme or update a Facebook status.

My web presence went dark from 2000 to roughly 2006 as I kept a small personal page on Tripod and my DeviantArt page masked with a free novelty URL before opening my first real web host at nightShifted.com when I started my nonprofit education and astronomy outreach program, nightShifted Astronomy. Fortunately, this was around the time that Internet hosting became cheap or at least, affordable for most people. nightShifted Astronomy continued from 2006 to 2014 when I finally decided to close up shop altogether. Shortly thereafter, Campfire Chess made its debut as Off My Chess, a tiny blog where I could share my games and interests related to the world of chess.

So, what is the point of a post like this? The truth is that there may not be a point to it, but it was really nice to take a moment and travel down memory lane to look at websites and talk about Internet places that have come and gone. I believe that sometimes we tend to think of the Internet as growing stagnant in its development and growth, but the reality is that the Internet has always been an evolving and growing organism. It has changed forms countless times since its early development and there is no indication that it will cease those transformations anytime soon. My early exploration and exposure to the Internet was about the free exchange of information and ideas in a way that had never been done before. Data that I never imagined possible was suddenly available at my fingertips, but these days we tend to take it for granted. Curiously, I think that the next evolution of the Internet will not come with the same whisper that many of its previous incantations have come. Instead, I think that we will see a growing fight against censorship and the startling social trend to silence those whom we disagree with.

In the meantime, I will continue to carry on as the web evolves. It is my hope that Campfire Chess will remain for as long as it can, but I’m well aware that all things come to an end at some point. Until then, as I said, I will continue to carry on.

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MHCC July 2016 Round 1: The Stuff of Nightmares

Although you’ll be hard-pressed to find many pastors (or people) out there who would admit that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is their favorite film of all time, I am not your typical pastor nor do I like to think of myself as your typical person. When it comes to chess, there is much evidence to support the position that I might be the world’s worst chess player. I have become accustomed to losing just in some of the most interesting and depressing ways over the past few years and I thought I have learned to deal with the trauma that can arise from such an experience, but last Wednesday’s tournament OTB game reminded me of how devastating it can be to make a mistake in a game where I put so much time, effort, energy, and focus. In essence, Wednesday night was an opportunity for me to experience my own Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

As many of you know, I have been playing in my first series of OTB tournaments a few months back, but had to take a break to finish some school and other personal projects. These projects also contributed to the lack of posts here on Campfire Chess, but I digress. Playing in the July edition of this tournament was a last-minute decision, so there was a little bit of hesitation on my part for returning. However, I know that the best way to improve is to continue to play. Unfortunately, my return to OTB play was the stuff of nightmares. Rarely do I go into these situations expecting a win because very few of the players involved in these tournaments are rated anywhere near where I perform. Most of them are the master level or higher including a resident International Master and occasional visits from Grandmasters, which I have written about in the past. However, I can say that I never expected what happened this past Wednesday night. To say that it was traumatic betrays the depth of the experience.

I lost a game in eight moves although I played through to 12 moves for a combined total board time of around 14 minutes. Looking back on things, I realized that it was a simple mistake that ended the game so quickly whether it was rushing or simply not surveying the more properly. It has taken me a few days to get over it, but I have written some commentary on this atrocious game and decided to share it with my Campfire Chess audience. Now, for your viewing pleasure I present to you around one of MHCC July 2016.

Unfortunately, my desire to try again this week has been postponed because of a sick child. As always, family comes first. Therefore, I will have to wait until next week for an opportunity to redeem myself with a reasonable loss.

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Product Review – Most Amazing Moves

I am not sure why I have struggled to finish this review, but hopefully this 4th draft will be the final version. This also turned out to be the first post of July 2016. Normally, I would already have posted several entries, but this is been a challenging month.

Alas, on to the review we go…

Like most chess players, there are certain games and moves that have left an unmistakable influence on my life. Of course, classic games like Morphy’s Opera Game and Fischer Game of the Century are highlights, but some classic games of Staunton, Casablanca have earned their way into my collection of PGN databases and FEN diagrams. So, imagine my excitement when I discovered a DVD on the growing Chessbase library that brings many of those games together in a single collection: GM Simon Williams’ Most Amazing Moves. Although the DVD itself was published in January 2015, I only recently managed to pick up a copy and go through it in its entirety.

The DVD Itself

Most Amazing Moves is a 4-hour collection of video commentary by GM Williams on a mixed collection of games featuring some of his own experiences intermixed with games from the greatest players in history. Combined with his unique brand of humor, Williams provides the viewer with an exciting overview of the games and exploration of how some seemingly small moves can change the course of a game or even the course of chess history. If British humor is not something you are accustomed to, and some of his comments could seem offputting. However, I found all of his commentary and insights into the games extremely refreshing.

The DVD itself begins with some relatively popular classical games, but it is the exploration of key moments in these games that separates this DVD apart from others. Personally, as a man who is fully aware of his chess deficiencies, I enjoyed Simon’s repeated jabs at the viewer further assumed inability to see the most amazing move and the meaning behind what makes it such an amazing move. Throughout the DVD, Simon begins by offering brief commentary on each game before moving on to a Chessbase quiz that allows the user to guess the next set of moves. There were moments in these quizzes where it seemed that no amount of calculation or guessing allowed me to determine the correct move. However, there were other times when I was able to guess the correct move, but only because it fit with a theme carried over from one or two games earlier. Or, I was able to determine the correct move but not immediately ascertain exactly why it was such an amazing move. Fortunately, Simon provides detailed explanation of the moves and even some witty comments on variations that can be selected by the user. Some of those variations come with honest and heartfelt chess instruction while others are met with a look of disdain and utter confusion and why the person would even consider trying to guess the moves. Here is an example of the gems that make up the bulk of the DVD:

While there are many examples of amazing tactics demonstrated throughout the DVD, Williams does not focus exclusively on tactics and also provides the user some opportunities to review great positional chess games as well. This variety as a unique flavor to the DVD which helps to diversify its target audience and simply add to the overall fun of watching some of the greatest chess games in history.

About the Author

GM Simon Williams is from Surrey, England and earned the title of Grandmaster in 2008 after finishing his third GM-norm at the Hastings International Chess Congress. While he continues to play in a variety of settings, Williams has recently transitioned from playing regularly in tournaments to focusing on chess commentary, tournament organization, and publishing. He runs his own website which is published a series of instructional DVDs and he is well-known for his commentary on Chessbase and Chess24. His sense of humor and depth of chess knowledge add a unique flavor to his instruction and commentary that, in my opinion, is much needed in the world of professional chess.

It is apparent throughout the DVD that Williams had a blast organizing, researching, and filming this product. There are many examples in the DVD from his own games and he is not shy about acknowledging the perception that can come with focusing on himself in a DVD titled Most Amazing Moves, but there are no instances throughout the four hours of DVD commentary and instruction where I felt that a game or move had been represented that was not amazing in itself.

Final Verdict

As I write this review, Most Amazing Moves is available in the Chessbase Shop for €29.90 and is available on physical media or via download option. For that price, which is consistent of most of Chessbase’s DVDs, it is an exceptional bargain for such an amazing collection of games. Both beginners, intermediate, and advanced players will appreciate the nuances of these amazing moves. If you do not have a copy of Chessbase, the DVD itself comes with a copy of Chessbase Reader or you can download the free Chessbase Reader from here. I give it 4.5 pawns out of 5.

Campfire Chess Rating: ♟♟♟♟♙

Further Reading: Chessbase Review (2015)

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