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Catching up

I owe you an apology for not keeping up with chess news as it came in. ChessCentral has been so swamped with orders, phone calls, and e-mails that it’s been hard to keep up with everything. We’re having an amazing holiday season, especially so given the state of the economy (but it proves the point I made in an article I wrote for ChessCentral a year ago: chess generally does very well during bad economic times), and we’d like to take this opportunity to say a heartfelt “Thank you!” for shopping ChessCentral.

In chess news, Boris Gelfand won the World Cup, downing Ruslan Ponomariov in a tiebreak.  I found an interesting comment in chessbase.com’s report:

FIDE, feel vindicated that the top seed won the event. “Who would dare to call the knock out format a lottery?” the official bulletin says.

I found this to be an interesting statement in light of the criticisms leveled against FIDE during the post-Campomanes years that the World Championship and other important events have been “lotteries” and “pinball chess” (due to the use of speed games to decide major events). While I’m still a traditionalist (I miss the drama of the old three year cycle used during the [early] Kasparov years), I have to admit that the World Cup produced some exciting games and some pretty danged good chess. Is the format any better or is it just that we’ve grown accustomed to it? I need to ponder that thought awhile…

Meanwhile the London Chess Classic has also wrapped up, with teenaged Norwegian GM Magnus Carlsen taking the honors. Drawing his final game against Nigel Short, Carlsen finished a point ahead of Vlady Kramnik.

And it’s time for another personal observation by yours truly. I’m presently staring fifty in the face, and the sad fact of the matter is that we do slow down as we get older (the occasional happy mutants such as Viktor Korchnoi notwithstanding). I’ve been a strategy gamer all my life, but I’ve noticed that over the last couple of years I take longer to decide on a chess move, longer to finish a sudoku, longer to decide on a plan of attack in Birth of America — heck, even something relatively simply like deciding in Heroclix whether to perplex Batman’s attack up or his target’s defense down is taking more time than I’d like.

Then I see kids like Magnus Carlsen and Wesley So tearin’ ’em up in top chess events and I start to wonder if the world really does belong to the young?

Nay, I say. I shall not go gently into that good night — I’ll never stop plugging away until they pry my Knights and little plastic superheroes from my cold dead fingers.

All of this is leading somewhere (it always does…):

GM Davies suggests guile and wisdom instead of brute force machismo in "How to Beat Younger Players"

ChessBase’s Fritz Trainer DVD How to Beat Younger Players is full of good advice for us old dogs who refuse to stay quietly under the porch. GM Nigel Davies suggests playing smarter, not harder. There’s nothing wrong with a little guile: play for positions in which we’re comfortable, hoover the pieces off board and trounce the kids in the endgame, choose simpler openings. And Davies’ advice goes beyond the chessboard — we need to pay attention to our health, too, and even that’s discussed on this DVD.

This is some cool stuff and I’m going to try to get a video clip up online (as soon as the e-mails and phones let me).

Play smarter, not harder. Part of being smarter is not paying any more than you have to: ChessCentral is offering How to Beat Younger Players for $34.95, which is five bucks off the list price. If you want to thrash that young player who’s been giving you grief, this is the place to start.

Now if Nigel would only do a DVD on Star Wars Miniatures, too, so I could finally beat my punk sons at that, I’d be on Cloud Nine.

Have fun! — Steve

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