Monday, April 28, 2008

Verbification

Anu Garg's Word-A-Day service for last week featured seldom-used verbs, the idea being there are existing verbs which will do the job in the vast majority of cases in which people create verbs out of nouns. Anu writes:
"There's nothing more grating on the ears than the gratuitous "verbification" of nouns in a modern workplace exchange. From "productizing an idea" to "administrating the plan" and "incentivizing the workers", these verb-forms are about as graceful as a sumo wrestler performing a ballet.  Don't get me wrong -- there's nothing sinful about coining new words, or using existing ones in creative ways, but these Latinate constructions just don't work. There are already countless words that can do the job very well."

There is a school of thought which holds that it doesn't matter what words we use as long as the listener or reader understands what is meant. I do not subscribe to that school of thought. Certainly there is a role for coining new words, where no other word already exists to express the particular concept involved. But to willy-nilly create a new word by adding "ing" to the end of a noun and use it as a verb, that is just intellectual laziness. It represents an inability or unwillingness to engage in careful thought and choose the right word to express the idea being communicated. Or perhaps it represents the lack of any real idea behind the expression. I think it is true that folks who speak in a muddled fashion also think that way.

Adam Field responded to Anu's original post with an interesting observation:

I just have to point out one thing - the problem here is *not* just that there are other ways to do the same job. The problem here is that these verbs were formed out of nouns that were, in turn, formed out of verbs. Thus, in each case, the best verb for the job is exactly the original verb the new one came from. Verbs formed from nouns formed from verbs are fine, but when the new verbs mean the same as the old ones, they're entirely redundant, and that's the problem. On the other hand, when verbs are formed from nouns that were formed from verbs, and they end up with *new* meanings, it's all kinds of interesting, as seen in this Pinker essay:
http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/articles/media/2000_03_landfall.html

Monday, April 21, 2008

Frank Thomas and Hideki Matsui

Yesterday's paper carried an account of a tirade by Blue Jays DH Frank Thomas, objecting to his not being in the lineup for Saturday's game. My reaction was to contemplate what a cancer a selfish "me-first" player like this is to have on your team. Now, today I see that Thomas and the Blue Jays have already reached a mutual agreement to part ways. The Jays will still owe him $8M for this year, but will save the $10M they would have owed him for next year had he attained the number of plate appearances required for his next year's contact to kick in.

Certainly the Jays responded correctly by getting rid of this cancer in their clubhouse. Something like that cannot be allowed to fester, because it poisons the atmosphere for the entire team.

I can't help thinking of another player, Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui. Matsui apologized to manager Joe Torre when he made an error, after going more than a year without making a single error. Then, when he hurt himself making a play in the outfield, he again apologized to Torre.

This would be unheard of for an American player. I am not saying only Japanese players can be good teammates, for their are plenty of examples of players of other nationalities who are good teammates. But certainly the Japanese have a better concept of teamwork, and we have much to learn from them.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Has U.S. Journalism Really Sunk this Low?

Yet another debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama took place this week, as part of the lead-up to the Pennsylvania primary. It was nauseous. Not the candidates, they were their usual polite and dignified selves. No, it was the journalists who stunk. They seemed obsessed with playing the "gotcha" game, asking about gaffes made by the candidates, their ministers, their spouses, and on and on ad nauseam.

The low point was a question to Obama about why he did not wear an American flag lapel pin. If this is the best the US can do for journalists, we are really in big trouble. Perhaps the blame should be focused on ABC News, which supplied the questioners. It seems ABC is trying to outdo FOX for the title of the most despicable news network around.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Thanks to the good folks at Netflix I saw this movie recently. In reading about it on the web, it became apparent that the book which the film was based on was quite an important book. I see now that it was on the NY Times bestseller list for 4 years.

So, after watching the film, I got the book from the library and read it. I know it sounds like a cliche to compare a film unfavorably to the book it is based on, but this reality really hit me like a ton of bricks in reading the book. There is *so* much more in the book than the film was able to portray!

The book is really about the city of Savannah, not about the murder case, which only appears in the last half of the book. The author, whose home is in New York City, started spending more and more time in Savannah and wrote about the eccentric characters he found there. A few of these are found in the film, though, for example, we don't learn in the film why a certain man walks an imaginary dog every day. This is explained in the book.

But it is the city itself, not the eccentric characters, which is at the center of the book. The author explains that Savannah folks do not welcome new industry, preferring they locate elsewhere and allow Savannah to remain unchanged from its colonial past. This is not depicted at all in the film. Some old houses are depicted, but this is no substitute for the detailed descriptions found in the book .

The book describes how Jim Williams was tried 4 times for the murder of his gay lover, surely one of the few times in the history of American jurisprudence that a criminal defendant was tried 4 times for the same crime. The first 2 times resulted in guilty verdicts, but were overturned on appeal due to errors by the trial judge. The 3rd time resulted in a hung jury, when one juror held out for acquittal. Then the decisive 4th trial came around. This time a change of venue was ordered, and a jury in a different town agreed on acquittal in 15 minutes!

The film depicts only the 4th trial, centering on the failure of the police to "bag the hands" of the victim, as testified to by the hospital worker who had to bag the hands after the victim had been brought to the hospital. This meant that the lack of gunpowder residue on the victim's hands,. which the DA made such a bid deal of in the earlier trials, was explained away as it could have been inadvertently wiped off during the process of getting him to the hospital. In fact, the defense brought in a nationally recognized expert who testified that he would have been surprised if there *had* been any gunpowder residue, given the shoddy police work involved. This gave credence to Jim Williams' self-defense argument, which had been shot down at the earlier trials due to the lack of residue on the victim.

The book is part of a genre known as the "journalistic novel". This means it is a true story but is told in fictionalized form. I once asserted that this literary genre was invented by Norman Mailer, but my girlfriend correctly pointed out that it was really Truman Capote with "In Cold Blood" who first used this style.

The Wikipedia entry for "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" pints out some ways in which the book is fictionalized. For example, the author actually came to Savannah a year after the murder, unlike the account in the book. In the film the reporter character is given a love interest, alluringly played by the daughter of director Clint Eastwood, which is not in the book. So, we see that the book takes liberties with the actual events, and the film in turn takes liberties with the events as depicted in the book. But Edward Albee's famous line is apropos here: "fiction is fact distorted into truth".

The Capitol Steps Come to Wichita

I had a chance last week to hear the Capitol Steps do a concert of their political comedy in Wichita. I had never heard of this group, but someone in church had an extra ticket and asked if I wanted to go with her and some others from church planning to attend as a group.

It was a very fun time. The political humor was quite inspired, but what I really liked was the pace of the concert. Like the Energizer bunny, they just kept going and going, taking no breaks between skits, and there was no intermission. They just went and went, and then announced it was over. When they introduced themselves at the end, I was surprised that there were only 5 of them (plus the piano player).

Examples of their humorous songs can be heard by going to their website.

A Memorable Evening at Bethel

In late February I went up to Bethel College for a John McCutcheon concert. I had seen McCutcheon perform 3 times at last September's Winfield Bluegrass Festival, and have been a big admirer of his ever since.

I got there more than 2 hours early, and spent the time watching a women's basketball game vs. Tabor College. I as quite impressed with the play, as it seemed much improved over what I had seen in past years. The women had a "no holds barred" style of play, driving to the basket like they meant business, and playing *very* aggressive defense. They were making their foul shots, and some three-pointers as well. With about a minute and a half to play, the score was tied. The teams had several trips up and down the court without a score. Bethel then took a 2-point lead, stopped Tabor at the other end, and then a Bethel player hit a beautiful 3-point shot from the top of the key to ice the game. Truly a great finish to an enjoyable game.

And then the McCutcheon concert, which was as awesome as I expected it to be. McCutcheon, who for my money is the world's greatest living musician, played his various instruments as he usually does, told a story or two, and had some good audience participation songs.

The highlight was when he asked the audience to sing the rousing "Mennonite version" of "Praise God from Whom all Blessings Flow". He explained that he had been introduced to this version some years back while doing a concert at Eastern Mennonite University, and he asked the audience to sing it *to* him, not *with* him! We were taken aback for a couple of seconds, and then a man with a good tenor voice sitting a few of rows behind me started it out and we got going. McCutcheon closed his eyes and smiled during the beautiful part of the song when the women only sing "Alleluia" over and over.

Another highlight was a song he wrote about the Amish children in Pennsylvania who got slaughtered. It featured a refrain "forgive him, as you forgive forgive him", or something to that effect.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Budapest Gambit

This is the third of the "minor gambits" Black plays vs. White's Queen Pawn opening, the others being the Albin and the Englund. I don't know what the sharpest line for White is, but I play a safe line which doesn't allow Black any tricks. Here is an example of a game just played, vs. never-play.
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 Ng4 4. Nf3 Nc6 5. e3 Bc5 6. Be2 O-O 7. Nbd2 Ngxe5 8. Nxe5 Nxe5 9. Nf3 Nc6 10. a3 d6 11. b4 Bb6 12. O-O a5 13. b5 Ne7 14. Bb2 Be6 15. Nd4 Bd7 16. Qd2 Rc8 17. Rfd1 f6 18. Rac1 Nf5 19. Bf3 Nxd4 20. Bxd4 Bxd4 21. Qxd4 c5 22. Qxd6 Bf5 23. Bxb7 Rb8 24. Bc6 Kh8 25. Qxd8 Rbxd8 26. a4 Bc2 27. Re1 Bxa4 28. Ra1 Bb3 29. Rxa5 Bxc4 30. b6 h5 31. b7 Rb8 32. Rc1 Ba6 33. Rb1 Bxb7 34. Rxb7 Rxb7 35. Bxb7 Rb8 36. Be4 Rb4 37. Ra8+ {Black resigns} 1-0

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Caro-Kann with 6...Bg4

In this variation, characterized by Black's pinning White's King Knight after all the Knights are developed, White allows the garbaging of his King-side Pawns in exchange for some initiative on the Queen-side. Black is two tempi away from being able to castle, a shortcoming White hopes to exploit.

1 e4 c6 2 d4 d5 3 cd ed 4 c4 Nf6 5 Nc3 Nc6 6 Nf3 Bg4 7 cd Nxd5 8 Qb3 BxN 9 PxB

Here is the fascinating crossroads. BCO2 gives only 9...e6 and 9...Nb6. However, a review of my saved games shows 9 out of 17 opponents have played 9...NxN here. 7 played 9...Nb6, and only one played 9...e6.

A database search shows relatively few games with 9...NxN. Of the 12 games, White scored 9 and a half! After 10 PxN, 7 Blacks played 10...Qb6, 3 played 10...Qc7, and one each for 10..Qc8 and 10...Qd7, all of which guard the Pawn on b7 which White is threatening.

After 10...Qb6, the most usual continuation is 11 QxQ PxQ 12 Rb1 0-0-0.

After 10...Qc7, which 2/3 of my opponents have played but only 1/4 of Blacks in the database, I have usually tried 11 Bb5. However, all 3 Whites in the database played 11 Bf4!, offering the Bishop to lure the Queen away from her b7 guard duty.

The book line after 9...e6 runs 10 Qxb7 Nxd4 11 Bb5ch Nxb5 12 Qc6ch Ke7 13 Qxb5 Nxc3 or 13...Qd7.

After 9...Nb6 it runs 10 Be3 e6 11 Rg1 g6 12 0-0-0 Be7 13 d5 ed=.

The Cambridge Springs Defense

This is a trappy variant of the Queen's Gambit Delcined, characterized by Black's omitting ...Be7 and playing ...Qa5, ...Bb4, and often ...Ne4, putting pressure on White's Knight on c3 before he's had time to get castled. I long have avoided this by exchanges, but it is time to learn how to stand up to Black's challenge.

1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Nbd7

By playing this instead of 4...Be7, Black announces his intentions to steer towards a Cambridge Springs game.

5 e3 c6

If 6...Bb4 7 cd ed 8 Bd3 c5 8 Ne2 c4 9 Bc2 0-0 10 0-0 Qa5 11 a3 BxN 12 NxN with a clear edge for White.

6 Nf3 Qa5 7 Nd2 Bb4 8 Qc2 0-0 9 Be2 e5 10 0-0 ed 11 Nb3 Qc7 12 Nxd4 dc 13 Bxc4 BxN 14 bc Ne5 15 Be2 with a slight edge to White.

Monday, April 7, 2008

What the Gun Lobby Doesn't Tell Us

The Second Amendment "has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word 'fraud,' on the American public."

And who do you suppose said this? Some flaming liberal? No, it was former Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger, a die-hard conservative. Burger goes on to say that the right to bear arms refers to the states, not to individuals, a view he has often repeated.

Rather than undertake my own exposition on this, I will refer to the following well-written article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/supcourt/stories/courtguns051095.htm
This article makes the point that no federal court has ever ruled that the Constitution guarantees Americans the right to own a gun.

Certainly you will never hear this from the NRA, which continually perpetuates the fraud Burger is referring to. It just shows the folly of listening to folks who have an axe to grind.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Sprezzatura

Only when you learn about other languages do you realize how woefully inadequate the English language is.

This Italian term refers to "making the difficult look easy", surely a term which English has nothing close to matching. The Italian word "sprezzatura" was used in 1939 by the historian Charles Alexander to describe the play of the Baseball great Joe DiMaggio. What an apt description!.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Queen's Gambit Declined

One of the first lines I learned was the Orthodox Variation of the Queen's Gambit Declined. That line runs to 16 moves and is still in good standing today. Here are the moves:

1 d4 d5 2 c4 e6 3 Nc3 Nf6 4 Bg5 Be7 5 e3 c6 6 Rc1 Nbd7 7 Nf3 0-0 8 Bd3 dc 9 Bxc4 Nd5 10 BxB QxB 11 0-0 NxN 12 RxN e5 13 de Nxe5 14 NxN QxN 15 f4 Qe4 16 Qe2

This is basically the starting position for the middle game. Many moves can be, and have been, tried here, and my purpose with this post is to investigate the current state of the theory about this position.

A search of a database turned up 17 recent games. 13 of these featured 16...Bf5, and there was one each for Qg6, Rd8 Re8 & Be6.

Of the 13 with 16...Bf5, 11 Whites played 17 Bd3, with 17 g4 played in the other 2. All but one of the Black's responded to 17 Bd3 with Qd5, with the 11th playing Qe6. An interesting 1993 correspondence game between Ardin & Rowe continued (after the normal 17...Qd5):

18. e4 Qd4+ 19. Kh1 Rfe8 20. e5 Be6 21. Qh5

White continues aggressively, putting pressure on Black with every move until Black's position crumbles.

21...g6 22. Qh6 Rad8 23. f5!

White threatens both 24 PxB and 24 f6, followed by mate on g7, so Black's next is forced.

gxf5 24. Ba6!

White threatens 25 Rg3ch, mating next, so again, Black's next is forced.

f4 25. Rxf4 Qd1+ 26. Bf1!

Certainly not 26 Rf1? PxB 27 RxQ RxRmate.

Bg4 27. Rg3 Re6 28. Rgxg4+ Rg6 29. Rxg6+ hxg6 30. e6! 1-0

White's last move is the nail in the coffin, and Black gives up.

The only time I have had the position after 17 Bd3, at lest as far as my current information indicates, was vs. Dutch-Master in 2006. That game continued:

17...Qe6 18 e4 Rfe8 19 e5 BxB 20 RxB Rad8 21 Rfd1 RxR 22 QxR Kf8 23 Qd6ch QxQ 24 RxQ Ke7 25 Kf2 Rd8 26 RxR and the game was soon drawn.

I did have the book position after 16 Qe2 in 2006 against Zoroastro, and that game continued
16...Be6 17. Bd3 Qd5 18. e4 Qd4+ 19. Kh1 Rfe8 20. e5 Bd5 21. Qh5 g6 22. Qh6 Be4 23. Bxe4 Qxe4 24. f5? (24 Rh3) Qxe5 25. Rcf3 (Now I see not 25 f6? Qxf6! 26 Rxf6?? Re1ch and I get mated) Qg7 26. Qh4 Re5 27. f6 Qf8 28. Qd4 Rd5 29. Qc4 Rad8 30. Rb3 R8d7 31. h3 Qd6 32. Re3 h6 33. Qh4 Kh7 34. Re8 Rh5 35. Qe4 Qd5 36. Qxd5 Rhxd5 37. Re7 Rd1 38. Rxd1 Rxd1+ 39. Kh2 Rd2 40. Rxf7+ Kg8 41. Rxb7 a5 42. Kg3 g5 43. Kg4 Rxg2+? (43...Rf2) 44. Kh5 Re2 45. Kg6 Kf8 46. Rb8+ Re8 47. Rxe8+ Kxe8 48. Kg7 {Black resigns} 1-0

As can be seen, I used the idea of pushing the e and f pawns, as in the Ardin-Rowe game above, but I miscalculated, and was lucky to salvage the win later on.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Catalan

Certainly the Catalan qualifies as an opening in which the ideas are paramount. It sidesteps the Nimzo-Indian, which has given me trouble in the past. Here are some games.

chessart(1573)-Rayjean(1621), 4/2/08, 2,10
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 Be7 4. Bg2 O-O 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. O-O b6 7. Re1 Bb7 8. e4 d6 9. e5 Nd7 10. exd6 cxd6 11. b3 Bf6 12. Bb2 Rc8 13. Nbd2 Nb4 14. Ne4 Bxe4 15. Rxe4 Nc5 16. dxc5 Bxb2 17. Rb1 d5 18. Re2 Bf6 19. cxb6 Qxb6 20. a3 Na2 21. Rxa2 dxc4 22. bxc4 Qc5 23. Qb3 Qxc4 24. Qxc4 Rxc4 25. h4 Rfc8 26. a4 a5 27. Rb5 Rc1+ 28. Kh2 Bc3 29. Rb7 h6 30. Ra3 Bb4 31. Rd3 Ra1 32. Rdd7 Rf8 33. Ne5 Bc3 34. Nxf7 Rxa4 35. Bh3 Ra2 36. Kg2 Re2 37. Bg4 Re1 38. Nd8 Re8 39. Nxe6 R1xe6 40. Bxe6+ Rxe6 41. h5 Re5 42. g4 Rg5 43. f3 Bb4 44. Rd8+ Bf8 45. Rbb8 Kf7 46. Rxf8+ Ke7 47. Kg3 Kd6 48. Rg8 Kc7 49. Ra8 Kb6 50. f4 Rc5 51. Rxg7 Kb5 52. Rga7 Kb4 53. f5 Rc3+ 54. Kf4 Rc4+ 55. Ke5 Rxg4 56. Rxa5 Rg5 57. Ke6 Rxh5 58. f6 Rxa5 59. Rxa5 Kxa5 60. f7 {Black resigns} 1-0

chessart(1606)-THODORIS(1544), 4/1/08, 2,10
1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. g3 Bb4+ 4. Bd2 Qe7 5. Bg2 O-O 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. e3 Bxd2+ 8. Nbxd2 d6 9. O-O e5 10. d5 Nb8 11. b3 Bg4 12. Qc2 Nbd7 13. e4 a5 14. Rae1 Bxf3 15. Nxf3 g6 16. Qd2 Ne8 17. Qh6 f6 18. Bh3 Ng7 19. Nh4 Rf7 20. f4 exf4 21. gxf4 Nf8 22. Re2 Re8 23. Kh1 Nh5 24. Rg1 Rg7 25. Bg4 f5 26. exf5 Qf7 27. Rxe8 Qxe8 28. Bxh5 Qe4+ 29. Bf3 {Black resigns} 1-0

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

The Albin Counter Gamibt

This gambit (1 d4 d5 2 c4 e5?!) is the 2nd of the 3 "minor gambits" Black can play against White's Queen's Gambit Opening.

Here is a game I just played, vs. Enroc(1390).
1. d4 d5 2. c4 e5 3. dxe5 Be7 4. Qxd5 Bb4+ 5. Bd2 Bxd2+ 6. Nxd2 Bd7 7. Ngf3 Nc6 8. e3 Nge7 9. Qe4 Bf5 10. Qf4 Bd3 11. Be2 Bxe2 12. Kxe2 Ng6 13. Qg3 O-O 14. Rhd1 Qe8 15. Ne4 Ncxe5 16. Nxe5 Qxe5 17. Qxe5 Nxe5 18. b3 Rfd8 19. Rxd8+ Rxd8 20. Rd1 Rxd1 21. Kxd1 b6 22. Ke2 f6 23. h3 Kf7 24. f4 Nc6 25. Nc3 a5 26. Nd5 Nb4 27. Nxb4 axb4 28. Kd3 c5 29. Ke4 Ke6 30. f5+ Kd6 31. g3 Kc6 32. Kf4 b5 33. e4 bxc4 34. bxc4 Kb6 35. g4 Ka5 36. g5 Ka4 37. gxf6 gxf6 38. e5 fxe5+ 39. Kxe5 Ka3 40. f6 Kxa2 41. f7 b3 42. f8=Q b2 43. Qa8+ Kb3 44. Qb7+ Kc2 45. Qg2+ Kc3 46. Qf3+ Kc2 47. Qe2+ Kc3 48. Qxb2+ Kxb2 49. Kd5 Kc2 50. Kxc5 Kd3 51. Kd5 {Black resigns} 1-0
It was against this same opponent that I once resigned in a won position! (I didn't realize I was checking him in the final position. Here is that game.
1. c4 c5 2. Nc3 Nf6 3. g3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Bg2 Nc7 6. Nf3 Nc6 7. d3 e5 8. O-O Be7 9. b3 O-O 10. Bb2 f6 11. Nd2 Qd7 12. Rc1 b6 13. Qc2 Bb7 14. Qb1 Rac8 15. Rfd1 Ne6 16. Nf3 Ncd4 17. Ne4 Nxf3+ 18. exf3 Rfd8 19. Bh3 Bd5 20. f4 exf4 21. gxf4 Qb7 22. Bxe6+ Bxe6 23. Re1 Bh3 24. f3 Bd6 25. Qc2 Bxf4 26. Rcd1 f5 27. Nf2 Qxf3 28. Nxh3 Qxh3 29. Qc4+ Kh8 30. Qxf4 Rxd3 31. Rxd3 Qxd3 32. Qe5 Rg8 33. Rf1 Qc2 34. Rxf5 Qb1+ 35. Kg2 Qxa2 36. Qxg7+ {Black resigns} 1-0

The Exchange Slav

I play the exchange variation vs. the Slav. It avoids the tricky lines. Here are 2 games just played.

chessart(1540)-DreaMLaNdeR(1675), 5,0
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Bf4 Nc6 6. e3 Bg4 7. Nc3 a6 8. Be2 e6 9. O-O Bd6 10. Bxd6 Qxd6 11. a3 b5 12. h3 Bxf3 13. Bxf3 Na5 14. Be2 O-O 15. b4 Nc4 16. Bxc4 bxc4 17. Qb1 Rfb8 18. Rc1 Nd7 19. Rc2 Rb7 20. Rb2 Rab8 21. Raa2 f6 22. Na4 e5 23. Nc5 Nxc5 24. bxc5 Qc6 25. Rxb7 Rxb7 26. Rb2 Rb5 27. a4 Rxb2 28. Qxb2 exd4 29. exd4 Qxa4 30. Qb8+ Kf7 31. Qd6 c3 32. Qxd5+ Kg6 33. Qe4+ Kf7 34. Qd5+ Kg6 35. g4 Qd1+ 36. Kh2 c2 37. Qh5# {Black checkmated} 1-0

chessart(1589)-jam(1592), 2,10
1. d4 d5 2. c4 c6 3. cxd5 cxd5 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. Bf4 a6 6. e3 Bf5 7. Nc3 e6 8. Bd3 Ne4 9. Bxe4 Bxe4 10. Nxe4 dxe4 11. Nd2 f5 12. O-O Be7 13. Qe2 O-O 14. Rfc1 Nc6 15. a3 h6 16. h3 g5 17. Bh2 Qe8 18. Rc2 Qg6 19. Rac1 Rf7 20. Nc4 Raf8 21. Ne5 Nxe5 22. Bxe5 f4 23. Rc7 f3 24. Qf1 fxg2 25. Qxg2 Rxf2 26. Qxf2 Rxf2 27. Kxf2 Qf5+ 28. Kg3 Qf3+ 29. Kh2 Qf2+ 30. Kh1 Qxe3 31. Rc8+ Kf7 32. R1c7 Qxh3+ 33. Kg1 e3 34. Rh8 Qg4+ 35. Kh2 Qe2+ 36. Kh1 Qf1+ 37. Kh2 e2 38. Bg3 g4 39. Rh7+ Kg6 40. Rhxe7 Qh3+ 41. Kg1 Qxg3+ 42. Kh1 e1=Q# {White checkmated} 0-1

The English Symmetrical Variation with 3...d5

For many years I was lost playing against the English. Finally I decided to pick a line and learn it. I chose the Black line characterized by 3...d5, with the Knight on d5 later going to c7, where it holds Black's position together until Black can complete his development. The Knight later can go to e6, where it can support a Pawn push to f4, or it can go strongly to the hole at d4.

There are ways for White to deviate early, but in my experience White players invariably play as follows: 1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c5 3. Nf3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 Nc7 7. d3 e5 8. O-O Be7 9. Be3 Bd7

For years I was obsessed with trying to get in ...b6 and ...Bb7, but I finally looked in the book and found this simple move, which prevents White threats against the Black position, particularly against the Pawn on c5 which often becomes vulnerable.

The most usual approach in Master games now is the White Knight on f3 going to d2 and then to c4. However, most Class players in my experience like to play Ne4, making a direct threat against the Black Pawn on c5.

Following are two of my ICC games using this line. In the first game White wins the Black Pawn on c5, but I get an initiative which eventually prevails.

Riders73(1796)-chessart(1823), 4/6/97, 2,10
1. c4 Nf6 2. g3 c5 3. Bg2 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. Nc3 Nc7 6. d3 e5 7. Be3 Be7 8. Rc1 Ne6 9. Qb3 Qd7 10. Nf3 Nc6 11. O-O O-O 12. Ne4 Ned4 13. Qd1 Nxf3+ 14. Bxf3 Nd4 15. Nxc5 Nxf3+ 16. exf3 Qf5 17. f4 b6 18. Ne4 exf4 19. Bxf4 Qh3 20. Qf3 Bg4 21. Qg2 Qh5 22. f3 Bh3 23. Qd2 Bxf1 24. Rxf1 Rad8 25. d4 Kh8 26. Kg2 Rfe8 27. Rd1 Qb5 28. d5 Bb4 29. Qd4 f5 30. Bh6 Bf8 31. Ng5 Re2+ 32. Kh3 Qd7 33. Ne6 Re8 34. Be3 Kg8 35. Bd2 Re8xe6 {White resigns} 0-1

Jonsdad(1653)-chessart(1735), 11/9/97, 2,1
1. c4 Nf6 2. Nc3 c5 3. Nf3 d5 4. cxd5 Nxd5 5. g3 Nc6 6. Bg2 Nc7 7. O-O e5 8. d3 Be7 9. a3 O-O 10. Rb1 f5 11. Qc2 Be6 12. e4 f4 13. gxf4 exf4 14. Bd2 Qd7 15. Kh1 Bh3 16. Rg1 Nd4 17. Nxd4 cxd4 18. Ne2 f3 19. Bxh3 Qxh3 20. Ng3 Ne6 21. Qb3 Rf6 22. Nf5 Bf8 23. Bh6 Re8 24. Bxg7 Bxg7 25. Rxg7+ Kh8 26. Rg3 Qh5 27. Ng7 Nxg7 28. Rbg1 Rg8 29. Qxb7 Rg6 30. Rxg6 hxg6 31. Qxa7 Qh6 32. Qxd4 Kh7 33. e5 Nf5 34. Qe4 Nh4 35. Rg3 Ng2 36. Kg1 Qg7 37. e6 Qh6 38. e7 Qc1+ 39. Qe1 Qxe1# {White checkmated} 0-1

Opening Day

Great opening day yesterday for major league baseball. I listened to the Royals game on the radio, while watching the Cubs game on WGN. The Royals beat the Tigers and Justin Verlander 5-4 in 11 innings. Former Wrangler Alex Gordon got the scoring started with a 2-run homer in the 6th, and then saved the win with a diving play in the 11th. Good to see Alex getting off to a strong start this year.

Also starting strong was the Cubs' new Japanese import, Kosuke Fukudome, who went 3 for 3 with a walk, and hit a game-tying 3-run homer in the 9th. Unfortunately, the Cubs lost to the Brewers 4-3 in the 10th. Aces Carlos Zambrano and Ben Sheets did well, both pitching scoreless ball into the 7th. In fact, the game was still scoreless heading into the 9th, but then the roof fell in as new closer Kerry Wood gave up a 3-spot.