Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

sofia smiles

We went Friday night to the Italian Villa pasta restaurant, after I went to KB Toys' factory outlet and tried to find kaleidoscopes. I offered kaleidoscopes as the prize in my Saturday chess tournament, and I'd forgotten to go on eBay and get some nice ones inexpensively.

KB Toys' factory outlet let me down (other than having nice plastic spindles of 300 foot kite string), so I ducked into Big Lots and got the cheap party favor kaleidoscopes.

We rented the DVD of "Lost in Translation", which I found to be full of wonderful metaphors and stretches for insight. It's funny, these films which everyone talks about for months before I see them. I must wash away all that I've heard, and view them with a child-like innocence. I have a weakness for small films and ambient music. I think that Sofia Coppola deserved her Oscar, Bill Murray deserved but did not get an Oscar, and Scarlet Johanson may just deserve to be "it".

I rose early this morning and drove to Carrollton for my chess tournament. I was "psyched" when my first two entrants arrived within moments of the start of registration. But these were not harbingers of massive attendance, as once again I had four entrants and one spectator.

The three folks other than my nephew and I were a different three folks than the ones from the Plano tournament. We all had great fun. I started out winning my first three games, and then decisively lost my last three, for an even 3-3 score. The last two losses were to a "C" player, so I not only finished out of the prize money but also my quick rating, having ascended over 1700 after my January win over an expert, will now descend back into the 1600s.

The fourth game, my first loss, was diverting. I played my customary "small center defense" (Lengfellner system). The hyper-passive, closed-in defense I frequently use (e6, d6, Ne7, Nd7) requires me to ensure that the position remains closed until I can catch up my development and try to transpose into a useful Old Indian, King's Indian, Alekhine's or Philidor line. I play it because it permits me to use my "very broad but not very deep" opening knowledge to turn the tables on unprepared, over-aggressive opponents. But this oddball strategy doesn't work unless the position is either kept closed, or any freeing of the position is based on over-zealous positional weakening by my opponent, giving me counter-chances. They used to call this type of thinking "hyper-modern", but I cannot claim any similar insight. I'd just call it "enlightened chicken, trussed up for roasting".

For reasons I can only attribute to poor play, I somehow permitted my opponent to open up the position when I was horribly cramped and extraordinarily poorly developed. As I follow the principles of baroque play when I play the small center (indeed, I go a step beyond into rococo and might even be accused of being Churrigueresque, or in my case, more appropriately buggy in a "chiggeresque" kind of way). That is to say, I play elaborate strategies which avoid engaging the enemy, set up cramped, complex, and deeply mysterious closed formations, work to keep lines from being opened, and try to make any attack boring and pointless, until I madden my opponent and begin an abstruse set of tactics.

Be that as it may, I looked up and found the position blown wide open by my pawns sitting on definitely disquieting squares, my king in the middle of the board, his rook on an open file on d1, and a world of his minor pieces forking and pinning everywhere. I laid a trap, and pulled off a gorgeous combination that snared his queen. Nonetheless, he replied, in problem book fashion, with an elegant mate in 3, despite his being a queen down. Simply beautiful--poetry at its finest--the closest thing to true art I know. My opponent copied the diagram, because our breath had been taken away.

The guys who came out to play were great. My 12 year old nephew went winless among much stronger competition, but had great fun, and gave the other "B" player a very close final game. This is very heady stuff to play close with a 1600 player when one's quick rating is 602. One good fellow drove three hours from Abilene just to play in my tournament. Another lives less than twenty minutes from me. After the tournament ended, my brother, nephew and I had Pakistani buffet at the restaurant affiliated with the banquet room--the food was spicy and satisfying.

My initial vision for my chess club was micro-tournaments of 4, 8 or 12 people. I have achieved this vision, but still have not worked out the problem of free or low cost meeting space. I will tackle this problem, though,and conquer it, because I see my vision ready to be realized, if I only make it come true, thanks to the help of the people who come to play.

Still, the meeting room was wonderful, marred only by the anglo restaurant employee in the banquet room next door, whose vivid cell phone conversation involving phrases straight out of old movies such as "if you had a real job", and a metaphor for sexual intimacy I had no idea anyone but Catskills comics still used in reference to her suspicions of her man's infidelity and her mock encouragement to him to proceed with the affair, wafted into the room. I think my nephew was too absorbed in his game to notice. I thought to myself that, after all,the script writers of all those odd indie films set in the northeastern regions of the country were not as tone deaf about dialogue as I had originally believed.

I must look into churches and coffee houses for free or cheap places to play. If that does not work, I'll set up my home as a place to play. It's important not to be derailed from achieving the kernel of my vision, a congenial chess club as a state of mind rather than a burdened organization, merely by failures in the superficial inessentials.

I walked by Glendover Pond, in the aftermath of the rain, where a heron waded in the shallows. He was gorgeous, and he stood as I circled the pond. Grackle birds conducted their wild, grackle-ish parties in the local trees. They sound like nothing so much as the night a gang of young lawyers with whom I worked all debated feminism, each talking at cross-purposes to one another and nobody listening,as the predictable issues among people on the left side of the issues of that day were debated. I suppose I mean that grackles sound like lawyers who imagine they have insights but in fact merely have a large bar tab.

We went to dinner with my brother and his wife at the Macaroni Grill chain, where I got a simple pork chop that was reasonably well prepared. Then we went to see Val Kilmer in David Mamet's "Spartan", a surprisingly taut old fashioned, cynical paranoia "who will watch the watchmen" kind of military espionage film. I cannot say the film was "great", but it certainly held my attention as a good, solid mainstream movie, despite its dark tone and use of violence. It's a real step forward for Mr. Mamet as a film director, although not in the same class as his "Winslow Boy" remake.

Val Kilmer wears his age well and brings a self-parodying wit to his role, making a kind of intelligent alternative to the traditional action hero.

I'm really enjoying Emma Bull's "Finder", a kind of slightly hard-boiled mystery novel set the nether region in which a land of elves comes into contact with human regions. I like it when elves are not twee or divine, but only different.
Now if only Uriah Heep had survived in the Byron/Box form to churn out songs about such times.

Tomorrow I must work, and get my computer set up, and exercise. I have a hankering to do creative things in the near future, such as poetry or song lyrics. This was a good Saturday.
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