Posted December 5, 2019 in Computer Chess, Other, Tournaments, US Chess

A Discussion About Electronic Notation Devices

Strange things are afoot in the chess world…

In March of this year, I had an opportunity to test and review the ChessNoteR, an electronic notation device (END) for chess tournaments created by independent developer Black Mirror Studio. I really liked the device and I have used it in several games. However, ChessNoteR is at the heart of a growing discussion in the chess world about the future of the game and how ENDs fit into the equation.

The Churning Volcano

The US Chess Federation published its reviewed electronic device policy on their website back in September with little deviation from previously understood policies. In general, electronic devices are forbidden from use in tournaments to include music players, cell phones, computers, and others. Only certified devices are authorized. However, the policy grants wide freedom to individual tournament organizers to set additional rules for END use.

ChessNoteR

The ChessNoteR electronic notation device.

On November 1st of this year, the Continental Chess Association elected to modify their tournament rules and outright ban use of the ChessNoteR device in its tournaments.

> Electronic Scoresheets are usually permitted if approved by USCF or FIDE. However, effective 12/26/19, use of the device ChessNoteR is not allowed. Any player using this device must discontinue use upon request, in which case, assuming no evidence of cheating, there is no penalty.

I have looked and there does not seem to be any specific incident mentioned in forums and in the official USCF groups that explains why this decision was made by CCA other than an arbitrary desire to eliminate ChessNoteR use from their tournaments. As I previously mentioned, this is in line with the revised US Chess END policy. Unfortunately, there is no need for TDs to explain why they enacted a restriction.

My biggest issue with the ban is the arbitrary decision to ban only the ChessNoteR device. I believe that US Chess should clarify in its ruleset that TDs can authorize or forbid use of any END in a tournament. In my opinion, the banning of specific devices and manufacturers sounds suspect.

The Heated Argument

In my opinion, the growing discussion goes much deeper than the perception of security vulnerabilities in ChessNoteR. Instead, I think that this speaks to a larger challenge within the chess community. It is a discussion that has brought strife to nearly every sport, hobby, and human activity throughout history: the old vs. the new.

Plycounter - No longer available

The Plycounter – a discontinued electronic notation device.

There are many people out there with exaggerated perceptions of the dangers of using electronic devices. In chess, using almost any type of electronic device during a game, whether its approved or not, is bound to raise a few eyebrows. That is because the only time these devices are mentioned by chess media is when they are used for nefarious purposes. Whether it is the GM in the bathroom using Stockfish or the absurd accusations of a playing hiding a chess engine in her lipstick, the general (and older) chess population appear to be hesitant on allowing technology to replace traditional pen and paper.

ChessNoteR remains certified by US Chess, and I do not see that changing anytime soon. Not all TDs may agree with the use of ENDs, but US Chess is right in certifying and promoting these devices. Players and TDs should be given a choice over the use of these devices. Restriction at a national level would be an arbitrary rejection of progress for the game as a whole. While the process remains somewhat clunky, I believe that technology will eventually evolve to where use of ENDs is more convenient and encouraged than traditional methods, but that is just my personal opinion.

A Compromise Solution?

Regardless of the way forward, I believe that US Chess must approach future END endeavors thoughtfully and strategically. I support the right of individual tournaments to ban the use of these devices, but I believe that US Chess should consider:

  • Promoting and encouraging the use of these devices where appropriate. ENDs can be very beneficial for people with disabilities.
  • Forbidding the arbitrary ban of specific devices and manufacturers. TDs should be restricted to authorizing or forbidding all ENDs from their tournaments.

I am saddened by the ChessNoteR ban from CCA events, but I understand it. At the end of the day, CCA is following the rules set out by US Chess, which I believe are fair and broad enough to allow TDs to effectively manage the use of these devices. However, as I said before, I believe that these bans should not target specific devices or manufacturers as it sets a bad precedent.

Posted October 12, 2017 in Mental Health

Caffeine, Psych Medications, and Chess

It seems common these days for the mainstream media to relentlessly scrutinize every facet of society in some desperate and misguided attempt to break news of the next big scandal. Unfortunately, chess has never been immune to scandal or to media witch hunts. A recent trend in professional chess discussions, in fake news mainstream media, and in recent years in online communities like Reddit has focused attention on chess game influence from stimulants like caffeine and medications like Adderall, which is an amphetamine used to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The Straw Man Setup

Mental Health suffers (no, really…it does) from unshakable stigmas brought on by media portrayal of psychological conditions in addition to the very real (and horrific) ways in which psychiatric patients were treated in the science’s early days. You do not have to look further than one of the world’s largest group of psychiatric patients, the Church of Scientology, and its Psychiatry: Museum of Death to see that the science of repairing and sustaining psychological wellbeing has experienced its share of dark days. Mass media tends to project this perception of Mental Health through books, movies, and video games set in dark psychiatric hospitals designed as gothic cathedrals (think: Outlast). The days of massive, cathedral-like psychiatric hospitals are mostly gone; replaced with advances in psychiatric medications and behavioral therapies. Yet, controversies have also followed recent advancements in psychiatric management via medication.

Psychiatric Medications as Performance Enhancers

The use of medications or therapy to restore a patient’s functional ability is often viewed as a means of returning that person to lifestyle levels on par with much of society. When a person experiences a debilitating psychiatric condition, the same philosophy is often used to restore that person to a normalized sense of function. In some instances, these people surpass their prior cognitive functions. Countless books and movies have been written about miracle mind drugs that unlock the other 90% of our brain function (think: Limitless). But what happens when the stigma and misconceptions surrounding medication-based psychiatric care give rise to the idea that these treatment methods are on par with performance enhancing drugs like steroids?

Longtime readers and friends know that I am just as obsessive about baseball as I am about chess. Unfortunately, my beloved sport was rocked a few years ago by a steroid scandal that tainted its image for the foreseeable future. Greats like Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds will likely never see their names in the Hall of Fame because of their association with the scandal. The drugs that they allegedly took were steroid cocktails designed to improve their physical performance on the field, not prescription medications for treating a debilitating illness. Steroids are prescribed for some patients, but those prescriptions are carefully controlled and no doctor in their right mind would prescribe them to help someone perform better on the baseball diamond. But what happens when someone takes a medication designed to affect mood, concentration, and memory?

Medication in the Ultimate Mind Sport

The subheading says it all: chess IS the ultimate mind sport. The only physical requirement is the ability of a player to move pieces around the board, but technology advances have even removed that barrier with voice-activated boards available for a variety of computers. Media focus is often on prodigies and eccentric personalities in chess, but anyone willing to put forth a little effort can be successful at playing the game.

ADHD and other psychiatric medications can have a significant effect on a person’s ability to concentrate for extended amounts of time. The misconceptions about these drugs are that they unlock or enhance the brain’s overall functioning and can raise a person’s intelligence level. There are no compelling studies that show Adderall or similar psych medications actually improve cognitive performance beyond focus and concentration. An person with ADHD without an interest in chess is not going to rise easily to Grandmaster levels of play.

A Personal Insight

This topic is of great personal interest to me because I suffer from ADHD and regularly take medications. Long before I was diagnosed with the disorder, I was adamantly opposed to the idea of ADHD and dismissed it as pseudoscientific propaganda. After being thoroughly evaluated by specialists and prescribed medication treatment a few years ago, I am a firm believer and advocate for treatment.

Yet, after years of medication and therapy for my ADHD, my chess skills have not improved a sizeable amount beyond the time and attention that I have been willing to invest in the game. Even with ADHD support medications, sometimes chess (or writing about chess) is of no interest to me. It is my belief based on personal experience and correspondence with other ADHD sufferers that this is true for most people. It allows us to focus our attention more like a normal person and less like the mass of scattered noise we tend to be, but it does not increase our skills at chess or ability to read the minds of our opponents.

Final Thought

In my amateur opinion, professional chess doses not have the same problem with caffeine and stimulants that baseball has with steroids. The community should take time to educate itself on these disorders, treatment, and how that treatment affects (or does not affect) their study habits and game play.

Posted March 13, 2017 in News, Politics, Tournaments

Singapore GM Shadow-Banned from Asian Zonals

I cannot lie and say that I was familiar with GM Zhang Zhong of Singapore and his wife, WIM Li Roufan, until the two of them became embroiled in a controversy with the Singapore Chess Federation. Apparently, both of them were excluded from playing in the Asian Zonals, which the Singapore Federation stated was due to the fact that they were simply not selected to play in the tournament. GM Zhang Zhong recently responded via ChessBase stating that Singapore’s actions amounted to a ban from the tournament and that the Federation itself was playing a semantics game.

This betrays from the start a willful ignorance of the meaning of the word “ban.” According to all standard dictionaries, the definition of the word “ban” is to “prohibit, especially by legal means”. The organisers of the Zonals Championship published an open invitation to all federations. It stated that all players were welcome to join. The only requirement was that the respective chess federations were responsible for registration. – GM Zhang Zhong (via ChessBase)

GM Zhang Zhong breaks down correspondence between himself and the Singapore Chess Federation in much the same way I would break it down. It is definitely worth the read if you get a chance to check it out. In essence, Singapore needed to register the two players for them to participate in the Asian Zonals, but did not. By refusing to register two of their best players, the Federation essentially banned them from playing in the tournament. 

GM Zhang Zhong and WIM Li Roufan (credit: Singapore Chess Federation)

The politics of chess are not much different from the everyday politics of government. There are shadowy agencies like Agon and FIDE that use incredible resources to undermine chess, and then there are amateuresque creeps like Singapore’s Chess Federation that prefer to put their personal agendas above the cause of furthering chess for its players and fans.

Read the full report: ChessBase News

Posted February 11, 2017 in FIDE, News, Politics, Tournaments

Iran Hosts Women’s Chess and Anti-American Chanting

Update (2017/02/13): And if it was not apparent that much of the screaming at Americans for not wanting to obey the Iranian modesty laws was not enough to demonstrate the incredible double-standard, check out this hypocrisy from Sweden.

Women from around the world sat down at chessboards in Tehran, Iran yesterday to begin the first round of the 2017 FIDE Women’s World Chess Championship. The venue was filled with local celebrities, dignitaries, and in true Iranian fashion, some of the world’s most controversial figures including FIDE’s own Kirsan Ilyumzhinov. As usual, Kirsan did not pass on an opportunity to give us more to laugh about thanks to the quick British wit of GM Nigel Short.

 

And as most people know, the decision to hold the Women’s Championship in Tehran caused a great deal of controversy with protests from American GM Nazi Paikidze and GM Mariya Muzychuk because of the compulsory hijab requirement. For Nazi Paikidze, the decision not to travel to Iran was also partially because of the significant Anti-American sentiment and warnings from the US Government about American citizen travel to Iran. Enough has already been written by countless news agencies and blogs to make it necessary to rehash the debate itself. Instead, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some events that occurred in Iran yesterday at the same time the championship was about to begin…

news-protest.png

Headline from Friday’s edition of The Independent. (Credit: The Independent UK)

Protestors took to the streets yesterday in Iran chanting the traditional Death to America and Death to Trump as the country celebrated the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution. What I found interesting is that this celebration coincided with the Women’s Chess Championship, which was touted as a representation of women’s rights advancements in the country. Yet, the Iranian Revolution itself marked a significant  turning point in women’s rights for the country. With the revolution came the restriction of women to their homes without male escort and loss of many other basic rights to the discretion of the country’s theocratic leadership.

When Nazi Paikidze announced her intention to boycott the event, she faced the typical media backlash that claimed her protest would damage the plight of women’s movements in Iran. Just as the first players began moving pieces the country was showing its true colors to the rest of the world by burning American flags, hanging an effigy of President Trump, and chanting for the death of the United States. Still, the calls from the media and from major political activists were deafly silent, which underscores the true hypocrisy of the Iranian government, FIDE, and the multitudes who tried to silence Nazi and others like her. It is okay to protest selected events, groups, or governments, but those protests must be sanctioned by the media and by the special interest groups that claim a monopoly on human morality.

We all knew that the event would go on in Tehran regardless of protests by players because Iran’s regime represents the kind of government and leadership style preferred by FIDE’s dear leader. But I for one am proud of those women who refused to give in to social and political pressure to play in the tournament. If the Iranian government is truly as open and accepting as it claimed to be in response to the protests, then Nazi, Mariya, and others would have been able to voice their protest without receiving the significant backlash they faced. Yet, that is not the reality we live in.

Posted December 4, 2016 in Personal Reflection

Daylight Gameplay and Suffering

I played the game above on lichess late last night. The site itself is quickly becoming my go-to place for online chess for many reasons I will cover in a separate post. What surprises me the most is that this was the second game in a row where I had a excellent tactic that brought a win. In this case, my 29…Qc1+ brutalized my opponent and snatched his Queen after the forced King move. Then, it was followed by this little gem earlier today…

I had an unbelievably easy winning position that I was unable to convert in two rapid games today that made my games from last night seem like complete enigmas. In fact, I was hard pressed to imagine myself actually playing those games from last night, but I did…which makes me wonder why there is such a dichotomy in the quality of my games played later at night versus those I play during the daytime.

This is the other game played at night and although there are some mistakes, the number of serious blunders are greatly reduced compared to the ones I played earlier in the day… Not sure where I’m going with this, but have to wonder if there is something that happens throughout the day where my concentration is off-centered and has to find balance. Too bad it tends to happen around 2200-2300 at night…

Posted November 10, 2016 in Personal Reflection

Recovering from the World Series

Obviously, this post is not about chess and it is much more heartfelt than a typical Campfire Chess post. Before chess was such an important part of my life, there was the Cleveland Indians and Major League Baseball, yes…in that order. As a longtime fan of the Tribe, I have lived on the razor’s edge with countless other fans watching a team move to the brink of victory only to watch that achievement slip away in the final moments. It happened in the 1997 World Series when the Indians lost to the Florida Marlins in an 11 inning Game 7, much like what happened last week in Game 7 of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs. Suffice to say that when the final out was recorded at Progressive Field on November 2nd, yours truly immediately switched off the television and sunk into a deep depression. Really? you might ask? Yes, my answer is yes…a depression.

A Deep Passion, a Passionate Love

Sports fans are generally maligned by much of society because sports are often seen as a waste of time, but there is much to be gained from cheering for a team or a sport that speaks to the essence of your being. Baseball has always spoken to me because there is a beautiful perfection in its obsession with numbers, stats, measurements, and finesse. What might seem slow and boring to some people is very powerful for me and for the many fans of the game I have met throughout the years. Just as it is with chess, it is the elegance and intricacies of the game that open up the true beauty and meaning for those of us who have committed our hearts to it. I committed my heart to the scruffy Tribe in their home on Lake Eerie many years ago and have endured countless heartbreaks, but nothing has come close to what I experienced on that November 2nd night when the Chicago Cubs celebrated their first World Series victory in 108 years on the grass at our home, Progressive Field.


Progressive Field, home of the Cleveland Indians (Credit: MLB.com)

Anyone who has experienced a relationship loss or gone through hard times with a loved one knows that people react differently to these kinds of situations. Some people are able to cope with them much more effectively than others. Some shut down, and others never fully recover. For me, losing Game 7 was like having a close lover break some of the worst news imaginable to me, which caused me to shut down. I removed many of the baseball feeds from my Twitter and Facebook accounts while also limiting the news I read related to baseball in general. I was not angry with the Tribe, just incredibly disappointed. Yet, that feeling of disappointment was only part of the more complex picture. What did the Indians have to be ashamed of in this World Series? Absolutely nothing! Game 7 was one of the most incredible baseball games I have ever witnessed and it seems that both Indians and Cubs fans agree. After a day or so I realized that what I was dealing with is much like what happens when someone close to us hurts us and we are unsure of how to deal with it. I realized that my love for the Indians was as strong as ever, but they had hurt me and it would take time to recover, but I would recover. Both of us would recover.

Little Kisses from God

My wife taught me a phrase a few years ago: little kisses from God. It’s when things are going badly, but God puts people or situations into our lives that help to reinvigorate us or to remind us that he is still there. A day after the World Series ended, I received my Indians 2016 American League Championship t-shirt in the mail; that felt like a punch in the gut. Yet, a few days later I started receiving other memorabilia I ordered from the MLB Shop including a mixture of items with the World Series and American League Championship emblems on them. None of these spoke to me as much as my limited edition ALCS Championship photograph with a piece of a ball used in Game 1 at Progressive Field. I realized when that photo arrived that God was using these things to show me that there is much good in what happened despite the hurt.

“Losing can be tough, but if I told you on February 12, 2016 that we would be playing Game 7 of the World Series at Progressive Field here in Cleveland, you would not have believed me.” – Tom Hamilton (Indians radio announcer)

The recovery process is ongoing and this entry is a big part of that recovery process. But, Spring Training is right around the corner and a rested Indians team will arrive ready to try again. The triumphs, pain, and sorrows of 2016 will be replaced with the blank scorecards of 2017 as all 30 MLB teams begin the quest to fulfill their dreams of being on the world’s biggest stage. I congratulate the Chicago Cubs, who had a lifelong devoted fan in my wife’s grandmother. Both teams fought incredibly hard and no loss or victory was unearned. There will be complete healing eventually, but this is the kind of heartbreak that leaves a scar. I only pray that it is a scar that allows me to cultivate gratitude for the good things that have happened and will happen in the future.

Posted July 20, 2016 in Other

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.

Posted April 9, 2016 in Other

Feeling Nostalgic about nightShifted Astronomy

Starting this blog back in 2014 was not the first time I had journeyed into the world of blogging. In 2006 I started a nonprofit astronomy education blog and outreach program called nightShifted Astronomy that ran successfully from 2006-2014 when I retired the website and decided to focus my attention on chess. The featured image on this post was the header image for the blog for over half of the eight years that nightShifted Astronomy existed.

A few days ago I was browsing through some archived design files and found the Photoshop PSD files for the header image and wondered if there was any trace of nightShifted Astronomy out there after all of these years. Imagine my surprise when I found out that my pride and joy for all that time remains in some places forever immortalized!

The archived edition I was able to recover includes a cool mini-press release for when I was asked to write astronomy and philosophy articles for a metaphysical magazine. Although the publication did not last very long, it was an exceptional experience.

Click here to view the full-sized archive (6 MB).

Posted March 17, 2016 in Mental Health

Finding the Resiliency to Go On Despite the Outcome

As if there were not enough things going on in life to worry about, I have hit a slump. These things appear to come and go just like the seasons but that does nothing to lessen the sting. In my case, March has been a very busy chess month with playing in my first-ever OTB tournament and simul event. Each of those events have resulted in goose eggs, which was to be expected. However, it is the growing struggle online that has started to ruffle my feathers a bit.

Chess.com Player Statistics on March 01. (Credit: Campfire Chess)


At the beginning of March I was resting somewhat comfortably with an 1103 online ELO with some spikes higher in the 1150-1190 range, but unfortunately never managed to break my goal of 1200. In the past two weeks I have watched as my game as gone from OK to horrific as both my ELO has taken a sharp decline from holding around 1100-1150 to an abysmal low of 1020 the other night before resting currently at 1082.

Chess.com Player Statistics on March 17. (Credit: Campfire Chess)


100 ELO points might not seem like much, but for someone who spends an inordinate amount of time studying, playing, and writing about chess…it is a big deal. Looking back, it is ironic that this month’s edition of Chess Life Magazine features an exceptional story of what its like to work incredibly hard at chess and only see minor to moderate (if you are lucky) returns. My guess is that if chess were some form of stock market investing that it would not last long. And no, that is not me on the cover of this month’s Chess Life, but it certainly could be. At least, it represents exactly how I feel at the moment.

As with all things, numbers only tell part of the story. It is easy to write about the frustrations of chess using ELO numbers, but what about the quality of the games themselves? Perhaps no other element of my current situation frustrates me more than this one, because my games lately have all been worthy of the losses I received. Simply put? I have seriously sucked at chess lately. For example, this game represents the worst of the worst:

If there had been a resign from chess button on the screen at the time I might have clicked it. The only excuse for playing a game like this is complacency and outright laziness on my part, but I felt like I was giving it everything that I had. So, what happened?

Honestly, I have no idea…

I am at a loss for words on what has happened recently. Basic principles of opening theory and tactics have seemingly gone out the window. Stamp this game under the category WTF:

What to do about it?

Part of this post is simply to have an outlet to vent. Rarely do family members of chess players understand the depths of passion and frustration that come with playing our game, so it is nearly impossible to find that kind of support in a time like this. In the past I have found solace in playing tactics trainers or reading books, but lately that feels just as frustrating as some of the games I have played recently. Then, there is the thought of a haitus from playing for a short time, but will that really help?

In searching the Campfire Chess archives I found several posts like this in the past at different times when I faced a losing streak:

  • Beat the Losing Streak – link
  • Reflections on Losing – link
  • The Decline Continues… – link
  • Coping with the Downfall – link

There are some wise words and stark reminders in those posts, but sometimes its hard to take our own advice. Perhaps it is time to simply re-focus and re-prioritize what I am studying about chess and how I play the game. If a haitus occurs, it will not be for long because, lets just be honest, the board is addicting…

What things have you done to beat a losing streak?

Posted December 28, 2015 in Personal Reflection

Ending on a High Note

This will be the last post of 2015 on this site. This has been a rollercoaster year for chess around the world and it has also been a wild ride for me as I continue to work on improving my game. 2014 concluded with my online ELO rating sitting at just around 900. This year I am excited to end on a high note sitting at 1100 with a peak rating of 1170 in early December! It is incredible how much work goes into just a few hundred ELO points but the reward of persevering through unnerving losing streaks and perilous blunders is well worth it.

2014finals

2014 was a hard year for me because it was a time of major transition. I moved from Ohio to Texas that year and was still very green when it came to learning the nuances of chess education.

2015finals

2015 was much more rewarding in that I managed to find a rhythm and method that works for studying, analyzing, and integrating my game experiences into future play. Here is the final game I am playing this year so that I can focus on my family during the New Year’s holiday. From the Campfire Chess family to yours, I wish you a very Happy New Year and much joy and chess success! See you in 2016!