Man de la Maza

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

"What happened to your early moment of Decision?"

Saw a comment from Blue Devil Knight on DG's site and I think I'd let the Gang know what I've been up to.

Chesswise -- not much. I have done no organized training since ... well , when was that last post? I've been pretty wrapped up in making a career change. For 14 years or so, I've been a computer geek. I enjoyed it for many years, but I'm ready to move on. Starting in August, I will be a middle school math teacher. It makes sense really. All the things that attract me to chess attract me to teaching -- the big money, the chicks, the fame.

So that's what I'm doing with me spare time lately. Not chess. I'm not sure when (or if) I will return to my Quest for the Holy Grail. If I do, you all will be the first to know.

It warms my heart to see the Knights are still thriving.

Still lurkin',
Don Q.
Knight Errant De La Maza

Monday, November 20, 2006

Week 1 : Early Moment of Decision

I've started a bunch of quests in my life. Most wind up pretty quickly with a loss of interest, but the early going is usually pretty easy. When you charge forth with new enthusiasm, it doesn't take much effort to will yourself to do whatever you have choosen. Last week I embarked on a 25 year quest, so I figured I was good for a few weeks before my resolve would be put to the test.

Not so.

It was just one of those weeks. Though I was pleased to do my study, I just had a hard time working it in. My moment of decision came at 9:45 PM on Saturday night. The day had been occupied with a school holiday bazaar and the evening with my daughter's 12th birthday party. I was dog-tired and 2 hours and 15 minutes away from the end of the chess week. Left on my To-Do was 1 hour of study of "Survival Guide to Rook Endings".

Don't get my wrong. I like studying endgames. It's one of those strange character quirks like a taste for brussels sprouts or preferring plaid for formal occasions. Each bit of endgame trivia I pack in my brain feels like another nut saved for winter -- a nut I will someday use to smash in the head of some unsuspecting squirrel ... But, I digress.

At 10 PM on Saturday night, I came to view endgames as I think most people do -- a type of caissic root canal. The temptation to make it up Sunday was pretty strong. There was a pint of Ben & Jerry's and a movie downstairs to complete the picture. I knew though that it was too soon to make exceptions. Though cheating on the schedule is a necessary part of one'e routine, if I did it in week one, it was all over for the long haul.

So I sucked it up. Wasn't too bad. I am happy to report ...

1 week down, 36 to go in Year one, 1289 to go overall

PS I also ate the ice cream

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Quest for Holy Grail: Plan for Year One

25 years is a long time, so I don't want to head into a full sprint right at the start. On the other hand, it looks like years 2-4 could be kinda skimpy due to a planned career change. That said, I want to make a modestly agressive plan. My plan calls for 6 hours of quality chess work/week. That's not a huge commitment for a Knight Errant ( I was logging a whole lot more than that during the 7 circles), but it is probably more than I plan to do every week for the next 24 years after this one.

Year One Plan
1) 1.5 hours of tactical training/week

Somewhat modest. More intended to keep the tactical muscles in shape than to improve. I think I might start working in the Polgar book just because it would be really cool to say I made it all the way through this monster.

2) 2.0 hours of study of "Survival Guide to Rook Endings"

I listed all the chess books on my book shelf that I thought I'd really like to study. I came up with 18. My guideline is that I'd like to thoroughly study one/year. This again seems modest, but not when I consider that I've been reading chess books for 20+ years and have only finished one . 25 books in 25 years would be huge.

I think I should be able to go through this one a couple of times in the remaining 37 weeks. It's only 142 pages of material.

3) 2 hours of chess games

This would include rated OTB games, solitaire chess or blindfold chess. This also pushed numbers up a bit. I never have counted my playing time before. Note this does not count Internet games since I always play schlocky time controls.

4) Make 2 flahscards (approx 30 minutes)

Got this idea from "Chessmaster at Any Age". The idea is to pick 2 key postions/ideas that I come across during the week and make a flashcard about it.

Hmmmm. I'll need to work in some time to review the flashcards. Hadn't thought of that. I'll get back to you on that one.

Today is day 1 of week 1. The first year plan ends on July 29, 2007 when I turn 41.

0 weeks down, 37 to go in Year 1
0 weeks down, 1290 to go overall

Monday, October 30, 2006

Quest for the Holy Grail

This weekend I was looking over the USCF top 100 lists. I noticed that with a particularly strong year my 11 year old daughter could end up one of the top 100 girls under age 13 in the US. To achieve this, she would need to achieve a rating of 1135 which would be a big improvement for her, but it certainly is in the realm of possibility if she wanted to do it.

I casually mentioned this to her because I thought it would be neat to be the top 100 in something in the country. She responded, "Could you be in the top 100 players in your age group?"

Insightful question.

Despite her geneological handicap, she is a smart little girl. What is this little chess thing for her about anyway -- me or her? I try to let it be about her, but there is a little me in there. This conversation about top 100 lists is definitely about me.

There are actually two valid responses:

1) "Hell no!"

I'd have to be a senior master to be in the top 100 players in the country. This is a citizen of the country of Not Gonna Happen and might even belong to Could Not Happen.

2) "I'm not old enough yet".

The next age list I can qualify for is the over 65. To do that, I'd have to be rated 1983. That's 300 points higher than my current rating, but certainly doable given that I have 25 years to get there.

So here it is at last, my quest for the Holy Grail:

To be listed as one of the top 100 players in the US over the age of 65

Outline of plan:
1) Not to die in the next 25 years (This is key!)
2) Not to quit playing chess
3)Improve 16 points/year over the next 25 years. (This will get me 2078 which would easily qualify me the top 100 over 65.)

Potential Problems:
1) Premature Death -- I'm working on avoiding this.
2) USCF folds and there is no list -- Wouldn't that be a bitch!
3) Losing interest in chess -- Probably the biggest risk
4) Such a great idea that suddenly everyone wants to do it. Being an expert won't make the top 100 anymore -- Possible but then I get to claim it was my idea. USCF will make me an honorary master for boosting membership complete with a lifetime membership and a Jacques millennium chess set ... Or maybe chess geeks will buy me beers at tournaments.

Are you serious, Don?

Yes, you heard it here first.

This is my quest for the Holy Grail, and it will take at least 25 years to complete.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Bit behind. Second thoughts.

I'm a couple days behind schedule here. I not infrequently skip a day and then do a full hour the next day. Well, that's happneed twice, so I have 2 makeups to do.

Having second thoughts in general about the 100 days. I have some school work that I have to get busy with now, and I don't want to necessarily give up an half hour of evening time to chess. I was ready to chuck the whole idea last night, but I decided to stick it out for another week and see how I felt then.

My tactical game is shaping up nicely. I have been playing a match against a buddy at chess club. The tactical sharpness has enabled me to enjoy the game more. Rather than a series of random battles, the game flows together much more as a whole.

39 days down, 61 to go

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Did I say 100?

I really ought to think twice before I lay out these challenges/quests. I've been doing some research and come to the conclusion that 100 days is ... like ... a long time. I'm still working out the math with leap years and all, but i'm pretty sure it's more than 3 months.

Oh well. Nothing for it except to keep going.

24 days down, 76 to go.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Perhaps Mr. Spasky would like his chair checked as well

Oh Veselin, I was just starting to like you too. But, this?

If Kramnik was cheating in the bathroom, why was he not coming up with better moves? What did he do in the bathroom, for instance, that caused you to miss Rxg4 in game 2?

Methinks the Bulgar doth protest too much.