Archive for the ‘Daily News’ Category

“The Yin of the Nerd in Lockstep with the Yang of the Jock”

September 7, 2007

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The secret is out. The New Jersey Knockouts have discovered why the New York Knights have had an incredibly dismal start in the U.S. Chess League. The Knockouts blog noted that there is something wrong with the photo (above) of 15-year-old Robert Hess (the Knight’s third board) that appeared in the laudatory profile of him in the New York Daily News. (I believe the News reporter was going for a Pulitzer, or the position of Poet Laureate, when he wrote of Hess: “the yin of the nerd in lockstep with the yang of the jock.”) What’s wrong, of course, is the position of the board: the White square does not belong in the left-hand corner.

OK, it’s a common mistake in movies and even public spaces. (In King’s Gambit, I describe how Au Bon Pain cemented chess tables into the ground in Harvard Square with the boards positioned incorrectly.) The difference here is that the prop master was an international chess master.

So this weekend, in preparation for Monday’s big match against San Francisco, Knights manager and task master Irina Krush is foregoing the Gorgonzola and putting her team through grinding, back-to-basic drills.

“Now, Hikaru, practice putting the queen on its own color… Very good, Hikaru. Now remember what Nimzowitsch said: ‘Keep the queen at home until at least the third move.’ I want to see nice classical development. No c3 on move two.  Yes, you got it, knights before bishops.”

“When you castle, Pascal, my dear, it’s always the king that moves two squares.”

“Now, Robert, a pawn can move two squares only on its first move. And can you lose the football helmet during the game? Remember we’re playing over the Internet. Your teammates, not the opponents, are the only ones who are going to be distracted by your headgear.”

“Brilliant, Elizabeth, you set up all eight pawns correctly!”

“Jay, the knight’s the only piece that can jump.”

“Matt, very good, you got itthe knights start next to the rooks.”

Kingfishers Clobber Knights: I Should Eat Crow

August 30, 2007

Wimpy logo or not, the Baltimore Kingfishers tragically defeated my New York Knights 3-1 in the first round of the United States Chess League. Pascal Charbonneau and Irina Krush were both winning in their respective games but threw it all away.

It is a very sad day in the Big Apple, but New Yorkers are used to bouncing back. I remember when the city was on the verge of bankruptcy in 1975 and President Gerald Ford refused to help (which occasioned the famous Daily News headline: “Ford to City: Drop Dead”). Well, we survived when Washington turned its back on us. And we will survive the indignity perpetrated last night by Baltimore.

After 34 moves, Irina had reached this promising position as White against her avian foe.

One of the joys of watching top-level games on the Internet Chess Club is that you never know who may drop by and kibitz. Last night, I and the other woodpushers who were watching Irina’s game online were treated to unexpected commentary by the legendary Gata Kamsky, the No. 1 ranked player in the United States. Gata said that she had a “strong advantage” in the position above and suggested a quiet continuation. But Irina surprised him (‘Nice,” he said, approvingly) with the forceful pawn push f5.

Now if Black is so greedy as to grab the f-pawn, he has no defense against the sly Bishop shift Bh5

and Irina shoving her e-pawn (after Black, say, moves his king):

The e-pawn is now immune to capture by the Black f-pawn because then her bishop will capture the opposing cleric.

But none of this after f5 was to be. Black did not grab the f-pawn bait, and although White continued to enjoy a strong game, the wily kingfisher eventually swindled her.

“Rich Bitch”

August 29, 2007

At lunch at Oriole9, which serves the best cup of coffee north of Brooklyn and south of Ithaca (it’s only $1.50 and you get a mini-pot of freshly steamed milk), I noticed that the tabloid headline wars have flared up over Leona Helmsley. Today’s clear winner was the New York Post.

“LEONA’S DOG GETS 12M!” the Daily News headline screamed. “But she leaves two grandkids NOTHING in will,” added the subline.

The Post ran the dishy headline “RICH BITCH” next to a large photo of Leona Helmsley clutching a froufrou snow-white pooch. The subhead offered a clarification: “No, not Leona–her dog just inherited $12M”


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