Thursday, July 30, 2009

abstinence, yams

Researchers tracked a random sampling of students who received an abstinence-only education, like those in the popular "None for Me!" lunch program at Woodbridge High School in Chicago, which encourages children to abstain from eating until after graduation.

"Although these students were repeatedly warned about the evils of eating and made to take fasting pledges, the abstinence-only program did little to curb their overall appetite for food," the report read in part. "In fact, students at Woodbridge were nearly three times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than children who were given a portion of meat, whole grains, and green vegetables, and then encouraged to skip dessert."

"I'm never ever going to eat, because eating is wrong, and I'm worth more than a chicken sandwich with asparagus and rice pilaf," Woodbridge seventh-grader Tracey Holmes said. "I heard Jennifer Hines eats all the time, like 50 times a day. I heard she eats all her ice cream upside-down, though, so she doesn't get fat. That's how it works."

"It's really hard, though," Holmes added. "I get so hungry sometimes. Especially after hours and hours of unprotected sex."


I took the new camera for a grocery shopping walk.

These are my friendly auto mechanic/ grillmaster neighbors.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

a horse of a different color

check out Greg's new website: A blog about charity, chess, poker and other random thoughts! The basic idea: each month, we get to pick a charity, and he donates between $500 and $1200* to it. Probably at some point we feel bad/competitive/good and give money also. He's eager for suggestions from readers, so go visit and leave some comments.

A horse of a different color: try putting hot girl craigslist into Google images. oh, fame.

*"The exact figure is based on a really anal formula that you’d rather not know the details of." (of course, you do want to know the details of this because it's almost certainly hilariously insane. I'll work on it.)

new camera + new haircut!

I have short hair now. And a Canon G10.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Jerry Hanken, energy healer

NY Times magazine piece about how Jerry Hanken hid from his war crimes by pretending to be a New Age healer in Belgrade. I know I have said this before, but this really is the funniest thing I've ever read.
it is.

At the time of his arrest, Dragan Dabic* was fast becoming a minor celebrity in Belgrade. He had his own column in a national magazine. He was a rising star in a Connecticut-based vitamin company. And he was collaborating with a well-known sexologist on a novel form of sperm-rejuvenation therapy.

It's not just the absurdity of the content that I find so funny, it's also that the NY Times manages to maintain some kind of institutional tone of amazed disbelief.

*Jerry's pseudonym (while he hid from the International Court of Justice)

Chris Bird kindly sent in this related photo of GM Jiri Stocek watching himself from 50 years in the future.

grudge matches

wow, I stop paying attention for a summer, and the whole Polgar USCF thing goes wild.

First, the Executive Board revokes Polgar and Truong's memberships for ethics violations, which will cause them to be automatically removed from the Board after 30 days. It seems to me that this is a very weird way to remove them, but assuming lawyers were consulted and it's not completely illegal, I guess we passed the point of niceties a while ago.

Now, Polgar's webmaster, Gregory Alexander, has been arrested for his part in this. Check out his order of release. I've never seen one before.

In other news, if you haven't been checking out Pogonina's website, you should. She/Peter do a great job, updating all the time, good stuff.

If you've stopped checking the USCL site because it's so dead in the summer, time to start again! I think I'm being funny in the discussion of "Female Rules" (who titled that one?), but it's possible I'm the only one who's amused.

Finally, I notice that the first round USCL match-ups include Queens - Boston. Are you thinking what I'm thinking??

( Tony Cortizas, Jr. originally made the poster for the Boylston Blog)

finally, finally, an article on the kids from the US Chess School.

ok, I know, but Krugman-- wow, he has enormous balls, it's like the antithesis of Obama's tact:

So what do the Blue Dogs want?

Maybe they’re just being complete hypocrites. It’s worth remembering the history of one of the Blue Dog Coalition’s founders: former Representative Billy Tauzin of Louisiana. Mr. Tauzin switched to the Republicans soon after the group’s creation; eight years later he pushed through the 2003 Medicare Modernization Act, a deeply irresponsible bill that included huge giveaways to drug and insurance companies. And then he left Congress to become, yes, the lavishly paid president of PhRMA, the pharmaceutical industry lobby.

One interpretation, then, is that the Blue Dogs are basically following in Mr. Tauzin’s footsteps: if their position is incoherent, it’s because they’re nothing but corporate tools, defending special interests. And as the Center for Responsive Politics pointed out in a recent report, drug and insurance companies have lately been pouring money into Blue Dog coffers.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

pie charts, a dance party, the "famously-furry Kasparov," and a bacterium to mourn

some fun illustrations from Flip Flop Flying

Facial Hair of Current Leaders of UN Member States

one from a long series: stuck TicTacs

bored mountains

I was at Union Square yesterday at 8 pm when a bike-riding collective/ group of Michael Jackson fans started a dance party:

If you haven't read Jaan Ehlvest's self-interview book, The Story of a Chess Player, allow me to recommend it very highly.

A few choice excerpts:

You remember a lot about the Botvinnik School-- tell us something funny that happened.

Yes, I remember the training camp very well-- I was probably in some kind of stress-alert situation because of my lack of Russsian and the importance of the training camp for me. I was an outsider there, and new to this kind of society, which differed so much from that which I was used to in Estonia.

At the time I was fourteen years old, and would soon celebrate my 15th birthday. Naturally, I was starting to experience the standard hobgoblins of adolescence. In particular, I was quite concerned at the appearance of a strange hair on my legs! I guess at the time I did not realize immediately that this was quite normal. Of course, the famously-furry Kasparov was already quite hairy at that time, although he was a little younger than I.

You are not married yet. What kind of woman are you looking for?

I do not know why, but I am very fond of blond women. The personality does not matter much--I think I can handle any kind; but it is best if the woman is clever. She must also have the qualities real women from the past had. I am not a nobleman, but probably I would like a noble, stylish woman for a wife-- but I can live without one also.

Other beautfiul questions include "When was your last fist fight? and "Are you afraid of death?"

helicobacter pylori

A recent article in the Economist discuss the eradication of a bacterium that used to be found in 70-80% of people. It is linked to ulcers and gastric cancer, but it also helps regulate appetite and provides protection against the development of asthma. ("Though the connection has not been established for sure, Dr Blaser suspects the bacterium’s disappearance could thus be contributing to the epidemic of obesity that is sweeping the rich world.")

"What all this suggests is that rather than trying to eradicate H. pylori, a better strategy would be to manage its relationship with humanity in a more sophisticated way. Some people are, genetically, more susceptible to ulcers and gastric cancer than others. For these unfortunates eradication may be the best option. However, if your genes predispose you to asthma or obesity, eradication may be unwise.

Moreover, people are not born with H. pylori in their stomachs. Rather, they get infected when they are young. That means a parent or doctor could choose which strain of the bacterium a child ends up carrying, rather than leaving the matter to chance. H. pylori is genetically variable (not all strains, for example, make cag). Dr Blaser envisages a future in which doctors run routine checks on babies’ genes to find out their susceptibilities, and then colonise those babies’ stomachs with the strain or strains that are best for them. If that happens, H. pylori can come off the endangered species list for good."

Saturday, July 25, 2009

318 documentary!!

so someone is making a documentary about my chess team.
watch the trailer here
the password is letMEin (me=capitalized)

Friday, July 24, 2009

40 women in a room playing chess (!)

I know, I've never seen it either. and this is in Tucson.

find out more at

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I will now stop trying to be funny and instead just look for a rich man with a long left-hand index finger

A high 2D/4D ratio

I take a break from chess to bring you this science update.

The influence of humor on desirability
Eric R. Bressler a, , and Sigal Balshine b
a Department of Psychology, Westfield State College, P.O. Box 1630, Westfield, MA 01086-1630, USA
b Department of Psychology, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, L8S 4K1
Received 15 December 2004;
accepted 20 June 2005.
Available online 23 September 2005.
Humorous interaction is a ubiquitous aspect of human social behavior, yet the function of humor has rarely been studied from a Darwinian perspective. One exception is Miller's theory that one's ability to produce high-quality humor functioned as a fitness indicator, and hence, humor production and appreciation have evolved as a result of sexual selection. In this study, we examined whether there are sex differences in attraction to humorous individuals, and whether using humor influences perceptions of humorists' personality traits. We experimentally manipulated how humorous two-stimulus persons were perceived to be by presenting them with autobiographical statements that were either funny or not. Participants chose which person was a more desirable partner for a romantic relationship, and which individual was more likely to have several personality traits. Only women evaluating men chose humorous people as preferred relationship partners. For both sexes, humorous individuals were seen as less intelligent and trustworthy than their nonhumorous counterparts, but as more socially adept. These results are discussed in light of sexual selection theory.

Partner wealth predicts self-reported orgasm frequency in a sample of Chinese women
Thomas V. Pollet, a, and Daniel Nettle a
a Centre for Behaviour and Evolution, Newcastle University, Henry Wellcome Building for Neuroecology, Framlington Place, Newcastle upon Tyne NE24HH, UK
Received 17 April 2008;
accepted 13 November 2008.
Available online 13 January 2009.
There has been considerable speculation about the adaptive significance of the human female orgasm, with one hypothesis being that it promotes differential affiliation or conception with high-quality males. We investigated the relationship between women's self-reported orgasm frequency and the characteristics of their partners in a large representative sample from the Chinese Health and Family Life Survey. We found that women report more frequent orgasms the higher their partner's income is. This result cannot be explained by possible confounds such as women's age, health, happiness, educational attainment, relationship duration, wealth difference between the partners, difference between the partners in educational attainment, and regional location. It appears consistent with the view that female orgasm has an evolved adaptive function.

Sex hormones and finger length: What does 2D:4D indicate?
David A. Putz, a, , , Steven J. C. Gaulinb, Robert J. Sporterc and Donald H. McBurneyc
a Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA
b Department of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA
c Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15260, USA
Received 30 January 2004;
accepted 26 March 2004.
Available online 26 May 2004.
Much recent research has focused on the ratio of the lengths of the second to fourth manual digits (2D:4D) as a predictor of the degree of expression of sexually dimorphic and other sex-hormone-mediated traits. However, published findings are often contradictory or subject to various methodological problems. In the present study, we reassessed the relationships among three measures of 2D:4D (left hand, right hand, and mean) and several variables previously claimed to be related to 2D:4D, including sexual orientation, spatial ability, status, physical prowess, and components of reproductive success. In addition, we examined the relationship between 2D:4D measures and several other traits whose expression is thought to be related to sex hormones, including voice pitch, sociosexuality, mating success, and fluctuating asymmetry. 2D:4D measures showed highly significant sex differences, as did spatial ability, sociosexuality, components of reproductive and mating success, and fluctuating asymmetry. However, out of 57 correlations, 2D:4D correlated significantly in the predicted direction only with sexual orientation (for both sexes) and only for left hand 2D:4D. We discuss the recent 2D:4D literature in light of these findings and consider their implications for understanding the timing of developmental events.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Vicary - Zheng: memory lane

Vicary,Elizabeth - Zheng,Lucas [B08]
Marshall Sat g/60 (1), 19.07.2009

1.e4 d6
2.d4 Nf6
3.Nc3 g6
4.Nf3 Bg7
5.Be2 0–0
6.0–0 Bg4

dammit. I'd just been studying the pirc, but what a waste if my opponents are not going to play properly. 7...Nc6 is "normal," when I was psyched to play this plan that goes 8. d5 Bxf3 9. Bxf3 Ne5 10. Be2 c6 11. f4 Ned7 12. dxc6 bxc6 13. Qd3 (D)

I love pre-fab attacking plans.

and then Ra-d/e1, and Bc1 or Bg1 (after Kh1), Qh3 and some big attack with f5. Black can also play 8... Nb8, then I play a4 (and a5 if they let me), or Nd2-c4 (if they stop a4 with 9...a5).

Lucas Zheng played against my kids when he was in 3rd grade, by the way. Now he's my height.

8.a4 I don't know-- what am I doing?? you tell me. Chessbase suggests 8. Qd2 or 8. h3-- Qd2 with the idea of Rd1 and general development. 8. h3 to be followed by 8... Bxf3 9. Bxf3 e5 and 10. g3 and Bg2. huh, ok.

9.d5 Rybka suggests 9.dxe5 dxe5 10.h3 Bxf3 11.Bxf3 and to just be like 'what? I have 2 bishops'

9...a6 This raises the question: of all the legal moves, which is, on average, the best? I was at a very very large dinner table at Friday's, back when the World Open was at the Adam's Mark (oh the memories. on this topic, does anyone remember in the mid 90s when the fire alarm went off in the middle of the night and everyone came out in their pajamas? that was my fault.) and someone (I think Jenn) proposed looking at many games to determine how frequently bad moves were made with different pieces. For example, perhaps king moves are more likely to be mistakes than rook moves? I'm not sure what the larger point of the discussion was, but it quickly degenerated into a dispute about whether castling should be in its own category, or count as a king move or as both a king and rook move.

Jumping ahead 10–15 years, I figured the move a5 for white must be above average.

10.a5 Nh5
11.Nd2 I'm moving my knight to c4 (this is my one "nugget" of information on the pirc), plus I can deal with the Nf4 threat by recapturing with the other knight. I can also kick the knight out "by hand:" 11.h3 Bxf3 12.Bxf3 Nf4 13.Kh2 Nf6 14.g3 N4h5

12.Nxe2 f5
13.f3 He's not supposed to be able to checkmate me without a light squared bishop, right? I just kept telling myself that.
14.Bf2 Nhf6
15.c4 g5
16.Nc3 so my queen hits g4
17.b4 g4
18.c5 Qe8 I thought for a long time here, but pretty incoherantly.
19.Qb3 I threaten c6!

20.Na4 again, I thought for a while and then panicked and chose something randomly. the main idea of this move is that my queen now defends f3 so the Nd2 can go to c4.

20...Bh6 This puzzled me at first, then I decided black must intend to move the king and play Rg7. That means I can ignore him for a while.
21.Nc4 Bf8
22.cxd6 Bxd6 I hadn't really decided what to do if he made the better recapture 22...cxd6 , but I figured he probably wouldn't, since he just played ...Bf8.
23.Nc5 Bxc5
24.bxc5 now I felt winning. 24...Rg7

25.c6! boo!
25...bxc6 [25...Nf8 26.cxb7 Rb8 27.fxg4 hxg4 28.Ba7]
26.dxc6 Nf8
27.Nb6+ Kh8
28.Nxa8 Qxa8
29.Rac1 Qe8
30.Kh1 g3
31.Bg1 gxh2
32.Bxh2 Ng6
33.Qd3 Nh4
34.Rf2 Qg6

35.Qd2 oh look, I could have played 35.Qxa6! Nxg2 36.Rg1. my technique sucks. the game went on for a while but I won in the end. 1–0

On a side-note, the Manhattan Marauders* (formerly the Queens Pioneers, but really, what kind of a lameass, silly name is that?) team captain, Mr. Dmitry (no c!) Shneider, informed me yesterday that the team Stripunsky-Vovsha-Milman-Vicary will be one of his possible line-up choices. Quaking in fear, anyone? I'm afraid this blog will mean I'm the easiest person to prepare for, ever.

*Greg claims** teams cannot just change their name, but I say if it quacks like a duck and plays in Manhattan and also floats, why look in its mouth?

**update: Greg writes to say "teams can change their name, just not 1 month before the season begins."

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Vicary - Eng plus some super high quality USCS photos

Joshua Colas

Kapil Chandran plays frisbee

Greg Shahade

Arthur Shen

Amazing pictures right? They were taken by Chris Wu's father, Ted. More are below, covering the answers to quiz questions, but you can also see them all here.

Vicary,Elizabeth - Eng,Randall [B31]
Marshall Sat g/60 (round 3), 18.07.2009

1.e4 c5
2.Nf3 Nc6
3. Bb5 It's really so much fun to play the Rossilimo against 1900s. It might be the only part of chess I always, unreservedly enjoy. In this game I thought I was much better in the opening and early middlegame, although it turns out I was not. But that didn't stop me feeling proud, safe, and crafty the whole time.
4.Bxc6 bxc6 played instantly. inside, I chortled with joy.

5.d3 it doesn't matter, but probably it makes sense to castle first, since it is the most certain move on the board.
6. 0–0 Nf6
7.Nc3 0–0
8.Be3 d6
9.h3 white always wants to play h3 in these lines because g4 is the only place where black's light squared bishop is at all relevant. ok, sometimes if white is not paying attention black organizes ...Ba6 and ....c4, but otherwise.
10.Rb1 I learned this move from putting my game against Kelleher into rybka. I guess sometimes just staring dumbly at the engine evaluation does help.

My intention is some kind of dark squarey kingside attack: Bh6, N somewhere (g5?), f4-f5, rook lift etc.

I also know for almost certain that he will move the rook, so when I play Bh6, he can answer Bh8. This is my other favorite thing about playing 1900s: they all believe wholeheartedly in this maneuver. Why is that? Just look at it for one second-- doesn't it look terrible??? Maybe it's good in the Yugoslav or something, when you need the bishop for your own attack, but I think it's an enormous stretch to think you are doing this for the safety of your own king. ...Bh8 weakens f7 (since no rook can defend on f8 and a knight on g5 cannot be easily kicked away) and takes every escape square away from the king. A knight on e7 is checkmate!! It's like some weird group hysteria.
12.Bh6 Bh8 sucker

13.b3 I'm playing this to free my rook to go to e1. Maybe I don't need to do this, but on the other hand maybe he'll play ....d5 and I'll win an exchange. oh, and one more thing I'm hoping for....

Find the Wrong Move (i.e. find a move that looks normal but loses immediately)

Justus Williams, Chris Wu, Josh Colas

Wrong Move: 13...Qa5?? loses spectacularly to 14.Nd5!
14.Rbe1 Ne8
15.Ng5 Rybka points out that 15.e5! is good. This is interesting to me, because I had not even considered changing the pawn structure like this. 15... Nc7 (15...dxe5 16.Nxe5 Qc7 17.Bf4) 16.exd6 exd6 (16...Qxd6 17.Bf4 Qd7 18.Ne4) 17.Ne4 Ne6 18.Bg5 Nxg5 19.Qxg5 f5 20.Nf6+

Here I was gloating internally, pitying this poor, poor planless child. Rybka thinks it's equal. Can anyone help me reconcile my ego with reality?
16...Nb5 I was thinking he would play 16...Ne6, when I was considering 17.Nxf7, but it doesn't work: 17... Kxf7 18.f5 gxf5 19.Rxf5+ Bf6 and I have nothing.
17.Nxb5 cxb5
18.f5 Bf6
As time pressure set in, I began to realize I had no idea how to break through. Over the next few moves, I went from 30 minutes to 15 without thinking about much that wasn't circular. After spending 4-5 minutes each move, I would panic and play something random and nondestructive, in the hopes of something good occurring to me while he was thinking.
20.Qe3 Qe8

I was excited because I finally have a threat here. What is it?

Chris Wu
I'm threatening to break through with 22.e5 Bxe5 23.Rxe5 dxe5 24.fxg6 hxg6 25.Qxe5. Of course he didn't allow that and played

22.Qg4 yeah, I know, very stupid
23.Nf3 Bc3
24.Re2 Kh8
25.Nh4 Qf7

26...g5 oh shit. my bishop is trapped. I bail out in what seems the best way
27.Bxg5 I can try 27.Nf3 Qh5 28.Nxg5 hoping for 28...Qxe2? (28...fxg5! and bishop is still trapped) 29.Nf7#
28.Qxg5 Rg8
The only potential trick I can see here is Ng6, but my Rf1 needs to be defended for that to work. Because of this, I considered Qc1, but I felt that would make my intentions very obvious and my queen very passive.
29.Qf4 Be5
30.Qf2 Bg3 oops
31.Ng6+ Rxg6
32.fxg6 Qxf2
33.Rexf2 Bxf2
What's black's best move??

Anna Matlin

Black's best is 34...Be6!, preventing the white rook from getting to the seventh. how instructive!
35.Rf7 e6
36.Rf8+ Kg7
37.Rd8 I'm actually kinda proud of how I played this endgame. This combined with last year's Rossilimo endgame "hurray I slime a child" , makes me think that the best part of my chess might be winning losing endgames. I do feel very relaxed and happy playing them-- there's no pressure, since I'm lost anyway, and I just have to find ways to be annoying every move, which I find fun. And then when you don't lose, such unmitigated joy.

38.Rxd6 Rb6
39.Rd8 what I don't want is for him to play Ra6xa2, after which I will lose all my pawns and the game very quickly, so tying his rook down is a big priority.
40.Kh2 Rc7
41.Kg3 Kg5
42.h4+ I figured there was at least a small chance he'd go to h5. Maybe Rf8 is better.

Perhaps I shouldnt give him e5 with tempo. It frees his bishop, obv, but also maybe I can play Rd5 later and maybe it will win a pawn.
44.Kf3 Be6
45.Rd6 Ke7
46.Ra6 Kf7
47.g4 Bc8
48.Rd6 Bb7

My kids were all watching here, so I sat up straight and felt heroic.
50.gxh5 Kg7
51.Kg4 Rf7
52.Kg5 Rf2

poor kid, trying to do the right thing and activate his rook. How do I win a piece?


53.h6+ Kh8
54.Rd8+ Kh7
55.Rd7+ Kh8
56.Rxb7 Rxc2
57.Rxa7 etc 1–0