Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

beating Mr. From

Last night we had my wife's sister, her husband, my 8 year old niece, my brother's wife, and our friends Donna and Scott over. My niece and I went to a branch of Campisi's, the traditional Dallas pizza place, to pick up six pizzas for everyone to eat. Campisi's main brach is called Campisi's Egyptian. When Mr. Campisi opened the first pizza place in Dallas, in 1946, his restaurant replaced a bar called the Egyptian. He found it cost-effective to leave up the Egyptian sign, and so Campisi's Egyptian Pizza was born. The outlet in Plano does not have Egyptian, Serbian or even Falkland Islander in the title.

We stopped by the local Kroger to get trash bags on the way home. The Kroger checkout lines were all frightfully long, except for self-service machines. The self-service machine required almost as much cashier intervention as the regular line, as the machine could not dispense all my cash. Still, I suppose for me it was quicker than standing in the regular line while people check out 135 items. Anyone who doubts that we are all weird and wonderful and unique has never watched what other people take to check out lines at grocery stores.

The pizza tasted frightfully good with diet root beer and great conversation. We all sat around and talked as the CD player quietly belted out songs, as if Mahalia Jackson had a handkerchief over his mouth. We started with the Oxford American sampler, a set of southern roots songs from the folks who put out that wonderful literary magazine which fails every two years or so. Then we played some Papa Wembe, and listened to that dazzling African beat. We had to change that out after a while, as our conversation had a certain shout-over-Wemba-ness, so I tried the Andanzas album I got on CDbaby for five dollars. Andanzas II proved very entertaining. It's an acoustic band which quietly plays dance songs and ballads from the various Latin American countries. I told my friend Scott he must learn the South American panpipe and the ocarina for our recording ventures. We decided to carry on with the idea of doing a CD of folk songs, called, of course, "Gurdonfolk". He said he had snippets of songs done, as yet unfinished. I said that if he had the verse and a refrain, we could manage it from there.

We finished the evening listening to Jean Ritchie's CD of dulcimer and haunting Appalachian folk song voice. It's still hard to me to grasp how she got such a pure sound on 1940s technology. We all had a good time, and we all wore out by tensomething p.m. I liked hearing the stories folks told about where they "come from" and how they grew up.

I see that I once again did not win an eBay auction of Andrew Soltis' chess book, "London/Colle/Stonewall", a book I know I will love and use. The fellow Ed Labate, who now is selling the Chess Digest books en masse on eBay, keeps putting this title up for auction. Other bidders, not aware that it is sold en masse on eBay, keep "bidding me up". I may have to break down and pay the "buy it now" price, as I am getting bored of people bidding up things that are available in "no need to bid up" quantities.

I've enjoyed Soltis' Bird Opening with b3, second edition, particularly as I own Soltis' "Bird Opening" first edition, in which Soltis all but declares the Bird bustable by From's Gambit. Now he says From's Gambit is all but busted. Chess thinking changes that way, but one is never sure if it's chess advances, or just hasty authorial conclusions. I must do research on the life of Mr. From, who invented the gambit which bears his name before much of anyone played the opening which it seeks to bust. In a gambit opening, a player tenders a pawn to the other side, but it is a pawn fraught with risk. In return for the pawn, the accepting player must take on a disadvantage, usually opening up the king to attack, but sometimes merely falling behind in development (getting the pieces out) or, as in the case of the modern and complex Benko gambit, risking falling into a positionally complex and difficult endgame. I rarely offer gambits, and rarely enjoy facing them. I want to learn to defeat Mr. From's gambit, though, as I have always love Bird's opening. Harry Bird was an English master in the 19th Century. He had a number of cool strategies named after him. That's a kind of fame to which I can relate. The Bird Opening is quirky, fun, and heady stuff--but for that darn From's Gambit.

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