News and Notes: Springs Chess Champ, Pet Peeves, Handshakes,

  • Congrats to Dan Avery who won the recent Colorado Springs Club Championship!

I didn’t play in the event, mostly because I don’t like playing unrated chess games. I am not sure why the club chooses to play unrated games, since I think just about every person (if not all) in the event are USCF members.

There are quite a lot of options for chess here in Colorado Springs, which is amazing because it is not that big of a city. You can play Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday nights here, and there are quite a few strong players here in the 1700+ range.

When I think of Dan, I am always reminded about how he would say “Let’s Have Fun” before the start of a game.

A few years ago there was a 24 hour tournament in Denver.  It was held at the clubhouse of the apartment complex that Anthea Carson and her family were living in. It was a really fun tournament with 20 rounds of G/30. I remember LaMoyne Splichal making a sign that said “Lets Have Fun on Board One” when it was his turn to play Dan.

The 24 hour tournament was a lot of fun, and I think it would be great if there could be another one in the future!

  • I am a big fan of the Colorado Springs Chess Club logo pictured above.  For those who don’t know there is a beautiful park here called “Garden of the Gods”, which features a rock formation called the “Kissing Camels”.  The logo is a take off on the camels, using knights instead.  I live only a mile or two from the Garden of the Gods, which is a must see if you are ever in town.

    The Kissing Camels in Colorado Springs Garden of the Gods

  • Or if you are cool, you can do a “fist bump” like President Obama :-)

    Speaking of starting the game…
    Parents – teach your children how to do a proper handshake before the game. So many kids give the weakest, limpest handshake imaginable, and never with eye contact. This is a valuable life skill to learn.
  • One pet peeve about the weeknight chess tournaments here in Colorado Springs is that the tournament directors love to assume that if a person played last week that they are going to play again this week. It doesn’t matter if the player is out of town, or rarely shows up, and sometimes even if the person tells them that they will not be there.  This really annoys me, and it causes there to be a lot of forfeit wins to be given out. 

    Why not just wait to see how shows up, and then make the pairings? It only takes a second using the software, and doesn’t waste people’s time.

    “When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me.” ~ Oscar Wilde

    Overall the TDs here do a great job, and being a TD is a thankless job, but I think that this policy of pairing people without them being present is absurd. I have complained about it before, and it still goes on.

    One other complication is that the TD doesn’t even own a cell phone, so you can’t call them to tell him if something came up, and you won’t be able to make it!

  • The other day I mentioned a new opening trap I learned.  This blog post on is a good resource with even more opening traps that you can play through.

I have been doing a lot of the “Tactical Training” on as well, and I really like it a lot.

They have a nice selection of chess problems, and an interesting formula that gives each tactics problem a rating, based on how people did solving it.  If people solve the problem very quickly with few mistakes, the problem’s rating will go down.  If the problem is difficult, then its rating goes up.  The rating of the problem is constantly being adjusted as more people attempt it.  Very interesting concept!

It is interesting because some of the problems have a solution that is simply capturing a hanging piece.  You would think that these problems would have a very high success rate, but many do not.  I think that people get into “problem solving mode”, and miss the “elusive obvious”, and are looking for queen sacrifices, instead of just taking the piece that is just sitting there.

It is also fun because people can leave comments for each problem.  Some of the comments are quite amusing.

You can do 3 problems per day for free on the site, and have to pay if you want to do more than that.  It will keep track of your progress, and give you a rating based on your ability to solve the problems, and how long it takes you to do it.  The program will give you an appropriate problem to solve based on your rating, which is nice too.

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