Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tactics, Tactics, Tactics

Ken Smith, a FIDE Master/USCF Senior Master who also finished fourth in the 1981 World Series of Poker, declared that until a chess player at least becomes a strong "A" player (one level below Expert) his first name should be tactics, his middle name should be tactics and his last name should be tactics: Smith felt that a player must improve his tactical acuity to a certain base level in order to most efficiently beat lower rated players and at least be able to compete with Experts and Masters; if a player's tactics are weak then even if he knows a lot of opening theory and can build a good position it will be difficult for him to convert that position into a win.

I enjoy solving chess tactics; recently, I looked at some tactical puzzles at Chessbase.com and thought that I had solved the first position but then saw that my proposed move order was not listed as the correct solution. I sent an email to the Chessbase.com editor about this and he amended the listed solution to include my move order as well. Here is a link to the tactic:

Master Moves

I have not made USCF Master yet but I guess now I can say that I made a "Master Move"!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thoughts About Patriots-Jets

1) New York Coach Rex Ryan said a lot of things prior to New England's 45-3 demolition of his Jets but only two of them made any sense: New England does indeed have both the better coach and the better quarterback.

2) While the "experts" focused their preseason talk on Brett Favre/Minnesota, the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Jets, Bill Belichick quietly continued the process of overturning New England's roster and molding the Patriots into a Super Bowl contender.

3) Attention sports editors: the next time a writer pitches you a story about how the New England Patriots will not be the same football team because of the departure of a "key" assistant coach--don't listen! Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, Josh McDaniels and Eric "Mangenius" Mangini all left New England and found much less success elsewhere than they did while working for Bill Belichick; meanwhile, the Patriots are still top contenders, posting their eighth straight 10-plus win season. Belichick is now serving as the team's defensive coordinator and the Monday Night Football commentators noted that this extra responsibility had limited the time he spent watching film with Tom Brady this season--but the Patriots had an extra few days to prepare for the Jets game and Belichick used some of that time to break down film with Brady. The results of that film study were very evident on the scoreboard and should leave little doubt about who really is the schematic mastermind of New England's offense.

4) I have a great story pitch for any sports editor who is really interested in publishing a story about a prominent head coach whose success is indeed linked to the greatness of a particular assistant: the story describes the career of a two-time Super Bowl champion who posted an 11-5 postseason record (including 2-1 in Super Bowls) with a certain assistant coach but an 0-3 postseason record without that assistant coach, including a head to head loss to that assistant coach when he served as another team's head coach. Of course, I am talking about Bill Parcells, who never won a single playoff game without Bill Belichick on his staff and whose Patriots lost 20-13 to Belichick's Cleveland Browns in the 1994 playoffs (the last time the Browns won a playoff game). Many members of the media used to love to derisively call Belichick "Little Bill," as if he were some inadequate baby brother trying to fill his big brother's shoes. Looking at things in historical perspective, who looks "little" now?

5) After the Patriots finished routing the Jets, Brady said that the Patriots all heed the motto of their coach: "When you win say little and when you lose say less."