Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Woodpusher's Wit, Wisdom, & Wiles

Mid-South Chess Advocate - Volume 14, no. 2 1993

There are those who believe that human personality traits are determined at birth by the location and alignment of the heavenly bodies. You know, ". . . when Jupiter is aligned with Mars" and all that kind of stuff. . . Whole books are written on this subject. Is there anything to it? Is this really a valid way to determine a person's destiny and personality makeup? Of course not! As chess-players, we all know that much more can be determined about an individual from the way they open the game with the White pieces. I'm not talking about any particular opening system - I'm talking about their very first move . . . move numero uno!

Can you find your chess personality below?

1. g4     Always the last one picked when choosing sides for basketball as a child. Defiant. Has few friends. Takes pleasure in insulting others. His chess library consists purely of non-classics like The Psychology of Chess, The Best Games of Michael Basman and Sam Donaldson, and How to be a D-player.

1. d4   Logical. Is probably an accountant or funeral director. Anal retentive personality. Every issue of Chess Life he has ever received is neatly boxed, labeled, and categorized by year and month in his attic. Idea of an exciting evening is to count the cars crossing the I-40 bridge. Once, during a snow storm, he ran outside, quickly brought in some snowflakes, put them under a microscope before they melted to see if it were true that "no two snowflakes are shaped exactly alike."

1. Nf3  Has problems with long term relationships. Is afraid to commit. Exhibits schizophrenic traits. Takes both sides of every argument. Suffers from low self-esteem. Before the beginning of a tournament, he can generally be seen touring the room asking other players what they think he should use as an opening.

1. g3    Shy exterior, but, on the inside, he's a volcano getting ready to erupt. Takes sadistic delight in making tremendous comebacks. Will oftentimes purposely put himself in ugly situations just to see if he can extract himself. Would rather play the Black pieces. Believes the rules of chess should he modified - allowing a player to "pass" on his turn.

1. e4 A conformist. His favorite author is Fred Reinfeld. Would rather lose than draw. Has a giant poster of Bobby Fischer in his bedroom to which he pays homage every evening with incense burning. With the pieces setup in their original position, this individual often says, "White to play and win." Overly confident.

1. f4  Wears very thick glasses and his hair is always disheveled. Somewhat dyslectic. . . really intended to play 1. c4. Advocates of this opening often say such ridiculous things as, "I just like to give my King some breathing room."

1. c4    Hates confrontations. Very evasive. If you thought Bill Clinton was The Great Conciliator, you've obviously never met somebody who plays the English. Likes to savor his chess games like a fine wine. His games generally continue well after the rest of the tournament games have concluded. Many of his finest games have over 100 moves. Generally wins by emotionally outlasting his opponents. Yaaaaaawn.

1. b4    Always trying to be different. Likes the attention-he gets from behaving strangely. Generally wears flowery Hawaiian shirts to tournaments in order to be noticed. Keeps asking the tournament director if his game is going to be published in the next club newsletter. Not unusual to play an entire tournament game wearing the classic Steve Martin arrow-through-the-head hat.

1. b3    Coy. Thinks he's tricky . . . but generally most of these individuals don't have what it takes to pull it off. Gets really upset when Black fianchetoes his King Bishop. Cheats on his income tax with regularity.

by David Emerling

In the last issue we discussed the psychology of the first move. But actually, even more can be told about a player's psyche from the way he defends the classical opening move of 1. e4 (or 1. P-K4 for those of you over 40). The first opening move we all learned was moving our King's Pawn up two squares, so immediately we were confronted with developing a defense against this ancient beast. Since this defense was learned at a young age, it left a deep lasting impression on the evolution of our personality. This has much more significance than anything Sigmund Freud ever came up with.

Below is a list of a few common defenses to 1. e4 and the personality profile of the player who uses them:

1. e4 e6 (French Defense) This person will face almost any indignity. They have no pride whatsoever. They are always the worst-dressed in the tournament room and frequently are caught picking their nose. In fact, they bask in self- humiliation. They get some kind of sick satisfaction from getting a totally cramped position and having others look over their shoulder and snickering in disgust.

1. e4 c5 (Sicilian Defense) Always argumentative. They complain about the lighting conditions, the noise, the chairs, the time control, the temperature, etc. Nothing is to their satisfaction, and are always looking for a fight. There is no limit to the extent they will go to provoke some kind of conflict. They will goad you into thinking you have some kind of advantage, hoping you will attack, just so they can demonstrate that their attack is quicker and better. The sad part is they represent the majority of chess players. And now you know why prospective new members are so intimidated.

1. e4 d6 (Pirc Defense) Dumb player. Thought he was playing the French Defense and couldn't remember how the first move went. Either that or he thought White played 1. d4.

1. e4 d5 (Center Counter Defense) A novice. Probably just learned how to move the pieces within the past 2 months. The preferred move of chess computers with their opening book turned OFF.

1. e4 e5 (Could be anything) A traditionalist. All his chess books are written in descriptive notation. Generally these people are your typical Casper Milquetoasts. Decision making is not their strong suit. They'd rather White decide what opening to play - they can't handle the burden of such "big" decisions. They usually have ONE line they play very well . . . one small deviation and they are completely lost!

1. e4 c6 (Caro-Kann Defense) Characterless. Just another faceless person in a crowd. They're the players at a tournament that never socialize. They play their game, mysteriously disappear - and only present themselves a minute or two before the beginning of the next round. And, for some unknown reason, players of this defense always have holes in their socks.

1. e4 Nf6 (Alekhine's Defense) Read one too many Lev Alburt books. Like's moving his Knights a lot. He's a combination between the Sicilian player and the French player. He's looking for a fight but likes to get killed.

(Blog editor:  The days of Bulletin Board Systems, BBS, are a fond memory for me.  The differing tones of the phone number dialing, heard through the modem speaker, and the high and low pitch scream of the modem as it logged on is a haunting memory.  David Emerling was the Sysop, System Operator, of the Memphis Chess Club's first online chess site, The Chess Board.  Long before the Memphis Chess Club, Incorporated web site, and Gary Pylant's Game of the Day, the local player had a resource that went beyond chess.  There were a variety of door games to keep you occupied or preoccupied. One of my favorite doors was the game Global War.  This was much like the game of Risk in which you could make one move a day. Ron Minor, Mike Barton, and Charlie Durham, local chess champions, and myself would compete in this turned based war game.  Of course there was a nice chess door as well.  I also created ANSI chess graphics for David's BBS using a program called TheDraw.  A few of them are posted below.  The Chess Board BBS remained in service for over five years.)

Mid-South Chess Advocate - Volume 14, no. 2 1993 Pg. 7


If you don't own a computer with a modem... you should. Besides all the great chess software you are missing out on, you will be missing the opportunity to exchange ideas and software with other chessplayers in the Memphis area and throughout the nation. Very soon a new electronic bulletin board system will be going public in the Memphis area that will cater to the Memphis Chess Club. You are invited early while the board is still operating privately. Many features will be added in the near future and the board will be operating publicly before the end of March. But the board is currently on-line and awaiting your call, 24hrs a day, 7 days a week. The number is ###-####

The following features will be incorporated and fully-functional by the end of the month:

1. All standard BBS features: Files, Messages, and Doors.
2. Specific file and message areas dedicated solely to chess.
3. A chess door that allows players to play against each other by exchanging moves with each call. Just like postal chess, only without the long waiting or stamps.
4. The latest news and bulletins of upcoming chess events.
5. Private mail area.
6. Support up to a baud rate of 16.8k.
Give it a try! Call today!

 (September 1993)

Do you own a computer with a modem? Is it just sitting in the corner of your house collecting dust? All you do is zap a few space aliens with it now and then?
Well, if chess is your thing ... and I assume it is or you wouldn't be reading this now... The Memphis Chess Club has it's very own electronic Bulletin Board System (BBS). Just dial ###-#### at any time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and you will be connected with all the other chess players locally and through out the WORLD! We have a message conference for local chess players and an INTERNATIONAL chess conference. But, best of all, you can exchange moves with other players in a correspondence-like format on an actual chess board. Top scores are maintained. You've got to see it to believe it!

But wait! Hold on to your wallet ... how much do you think this would cost? If you act NOW ... we'll even throw in an extensive file-base dedicated to chess software. We have huge databases in both text and ChessBase format available for downloading. We have numerous chess utilities and programs also available. If it is software ... it has to do with chess ... we got it! Or ... we can get It. Too good to be true? We even have many other features that come standard with most BBS's.

So what's the catch? How much does it cost? ITS FREE! That's right, absolutely free ... that's zilch, nothing, zip, nada! So why aren't you dialing?

You're getting sleepy ... you're eyes are getting heavy ... you are walking over to your computer ... you are putting THE CHESSBOARD into the dialing directory ... you are so tired ... you can't help yourself ... you are now dialing THE CHESSBOARD.

February-March 1984 Tennessee Chess News Pages 18 & 19

The Only Thing I Like About Golf
by Jack Smith

If you're paired with someone who is rated 400 points below you, don't you normally expect to win?  I used to.
It was a clear and cloudless afternoon when I first met Mr. X.  He was a mature gentleman, unconcerned with appearances judging from his dress, and polite and friendly.  I was, incidentally, impeccability attired except that I had no shoes on.  He introduced himself.  (I should have been put on guard by that alone), and as he filled out his score sheet I placed the pieces and set the clock.

After inquiring solicitously if I were ready, he assumed a relaxed posture while I pondered my first move.  I finally e4'ed him, hoping to play the Ruy Lopez Exchange and make like Fischer.  I figured I could out-technique the guy if all else failed.  However the fiend soon dropped a piece. Now I began to relax while I daydreamed about the next round.  My camouflaged Machiavellian genius meanwhile finagled to lose a pawn.  My yawning became pronounced, so I wandered to the top boards to see what the other winners were up to and perhaps gather a bit of intelligence in regards to the opening preferences of the fellows I would have to beat . . . later.

Ah, but the man was possessed.  He soon threw me a rook.  This was the final straw.  My dreaming began to totter between sleeping and World Championships.  I put the point in my pocket at least half a hundred times while counting the material on the board over and over.  I was the equivalent of a Queen up in the Ruy Exchange by move 25.  I was rated 400 points over my opponent:  I was young and healthy.  He was old, his three day beard began to look more gray, his relaxed position seemed to become a symptom of his aged-ness.  Why was the poor old guy forcing himself to play on and suffer the humiliation?  I could no longer watch . . . I went to the wall-charts to measure my rating gain.

But the poor, old, tired, beaten, graying loser still moved.  He even sought me out once or twice when he had moved.  I didn't have the heart to chastise him for this small transgression.  I was already crucifying him on the board.  Then I lost back a piece.  Oh well, I had more than enough.  I remember thinking as I went to buy a coke and small-talk the lovely lady near the machine.  A couple of small-talks later, he won back the exchange.  No matter, no fuss, a piece and a pawn will take him down, besides, the young lady was impressed by my lust – for the game.

Without a change in demeanor, a twist of the lip, a gleam in his eye, with virtually no reaction, the Lurker snared a piece back.  Now I was angry.  I waved so long to the woman I loved, and stayed at the board to whip this insolent cretin with the passed extra pawn he had so impudently thrown my way.  So I proceeded to "Stay at the Board."  "Push that Pawn*," as my cheesy mentor would have said.  I worked and sweated.  I analyzed and sifted.  The monolithic creature across the board from me never changed his slightly bemused, Mona Lisa-like expression.

Click to Enlarge:  Charge of the Light Brigade
The fourth rank flew by. (On the Six Hundred) The fifth rand was attained (Onward the Light Brigade). Aha! The sixth rank loomed.  I could push with check; a nice, fat spite check. (Cannon to the left of them. Cannon to the right,  Volleyed and Thundered)  A forcing line; my smile must have lit the room as it leaped off my face; his expression remained impassive.

"Check," I emphasized!  That was the last time I ever said check in a tournament game.  He dutifully regarded the board, and reached out to move his King, the only move I'd left him.  It was discovered mate.  The big (0-1).  Self-mate.  He won.  I lost.  It was over.  I remember that my face grew hot.  I recall mumbling that "most people resign when a rook down."  I didn't even shake his hand.  He got his feelings hurt.  He said, "It's only a game."  About two years later I apologized, when next we were paired.  I still out ranked him by 400 points.  He still won.  I still play chess only because he remarked after our second encounter that he was giving up the game for golf.  And that's the only thing I like about golf.

*"Push that Pawn" was in reference to John Hurt's much used post game emphasis. John was the Memphis City Chess Champion 11 times.

Chess Tournaments

Memphis Chess Club Calendar 2012


1 comment:

  1. Another great series of historical articles. While I loved the psychology of chess openings and defenses, I really appreciated the link to the Game of the Day (which I had never maneuvered to before).
    Thanks once again!