Check mate and about cactuses

by Rob on

This weekend Sanne was visiting us. For those who don’t know, Sanne and Marion are already since they went to school very close friends. And nowadays I am happy that I can also call her a very good friend of mine.

Sanne and I share a passion together: Chess.

Now several years ago Sanne asked me to help her to raise her skills in playing chess. In the past I played chess on competition level, so that is why she asked me. So I did.
Over the years Sanne turned into an opponent to be reckoned with. Something I really like, because that makes a game of chess so much more interesting.

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So when Sanne visits us, mostly we will sit down for a game of chess. And so we did yesterday evening. So while Marion enjoyed herself with a good book and a glass of excellent wine, we played our game of chess. It was a good game, exciting to the end. It looked for the longest time that Sanne would sweep me from the board, but then she made a small mistake and everything changed. I was able to restore my defence and opened a new attack. The result was that I could force Sanne to a check mate. But this only because of this small mistake she made and this is exactly what I like about the chess game: Nothing is set until the very end.

When Sanne and I play chess, we agree on forehand on a reward for the winner. If I would have lost, I would wash and clean Sanne’s car. But luckily I didn’t lose and now Sanne will be my guide on very early morning photo-trip into the “Haaksbergerveen” (The “Haaksbergerveen” is a large and beautiful moor in the eastern part of The Netherlands and Sanne knows her way very well around there as she lived for the most of her life almost next to it).

(Click on the image to zoom in)

Also Sanne bought a small gift. She overheard me saying that I needed a new plant for on the coffee table. She also know that I always liked cactuses and nowadays they are quite popular again. So when she saw the this scale with cactuses at a local store she bought it for us. And I have to say that I really like it. It looks very nice on the coffee table.

And so we had a very nice weekend with the three of us. Of course we did a lot more than only playing chess. We had dinner a very good steakhouse here in town, we made a nice long beach walk and we had many laughs together.

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The Chessman II

by Rob on

Yesterday evening I had to pick something from one of the closets in my bedroom. A box on the bottom of the closet suddenly grapped my attention…

Smiling I realized it was my old chess computer, the Chessman II. Good memories about that computer. I bought that computer in 1986, the same year it was published to the market. And it was for that time a very big investment for me to buy it. I practised a lot on it in the past.

I picked up the box and started to wonder if it would still work. After all the machine was 29 years old. I placed 6 penlight batteries and to my surprise some leds turned on and a loud “pling” sounded. It looked like the chess computer was still fully functional.

When I placed all the pieces on the board, I noticed one black pawn was missing. For now I am using a pawn from another chess set I own. But I will try to find another (second-hand) Chessman II to complete all the chess pieces again. If that is not succesful I will buy a set of small Staunton pieces (those are not that expensive).

As said, the chess computer is fully functional, although some of the sensors in the chess board are reacting not very smoothly anymore. They still work and that is what counts.

I can remember from way back that the first three levels were easy. If I didn’t make any mistakes, I would win from the chess computer.
The next three levels were harder. I really had to watch what I was doing.
And in the highest level I had met my master. The computer was too strong for me back then.

The thing is when playing chess to a human, you will take advantage of mistakes and of things that are overlooked. A well programmed and good functioning chess computer doesn’t make mistakes and it doesn’t overlook things on the board. And that makes it a very though opponent. And what makes it even worse, chess computers are very fast and it can be annoying that you need a lot more time (and still make mistakes).

It is kinda sad that the age of the chess computers is gone. They had to make place to chess applications and apps for all kind of modern devices. Maybe it is because of that it is very nice to have a fully operational chess computer of almost 30 years old.

Anyway, when I have time I will try and see how good I am doing now against the Chessman II. Starting on the lowest level and slowly up. It will be fun.

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As I already have told before, I really love the chess game. I believe I also told here before that I have played chess for several years on competition level.

For the last time I am playing chess with Sanne (a common friend of Marion and me). Sending each move by mail, text-message or Skype. Basically I have learned Sanne to play chess. And she is a clear example of a student who becomes better as the teacher. Yes, she has become a very good chess player and that makes it a challenge to play with her. That is making things of course interesting.

This weekend Sanne was visiting me to play some games of chess. Playing on distance and exchanging the moves by text-messages or something like that is fun. But it is so much better to sit in front of each other and play the game real-time. I can enjoy this so much. The long silences while studying the situation on the chess board. The carefully over thinking the consequences of a move. I love it.

Both games we played were great games. Real challenges that needed a long time to complete… as it should with a game of chess.
I liked it that we both won one of the two games we played. The game of Friday night I won, but I really have to admit that is was a though game. Sanne’s defence were strong, her attacks clever and well thought over. Just by a trick I won. She thought I made a mistake and missed a change for her to take my queen… but it was not a mistake, but a well calculate move to would lead to make her king vulnerable and that gave me the advantage.
The game we played yesterday evening was maybe even more spectacular. Both our defences were very strong. With teases and pokes we tried to the other to provoke an attack, but none of us reacted on that. But with all this I created a small weak spot in my defence and Sanne took fully advantage of that. That was the beginning of the end :-). Very well-played!!

It is always funny how many people react when I tell them that Sanne will stay at my place while Marion is not here… and even worse, she will stay overnight here! I am pretty sure that many think that just friendship between a man and a woman is not possible when one of them is a relation with someone else. Nonsense in my opinion. Sanne and I are the proof of that. People should not always think the most bad of something.

Anyway, I had a very nice weekend with these chess games. And of course the walk with Sanne’s “Drentse patrijs” along the beach was also very nice. We agreed that we should have this kind of weekends we should have more often. And we will!

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Life is there… to play chess

by Rob on

During Easter is Sanne, a very good friend of Marion and me, staying at my place. Sanne is always a welcome quest. She is fun to have around, good to talk with and always helpful.

Already some time ago when Sanne was also here at my place, she noticed my old chess board standing beside the couch. She asked about it and I told her that when I was younger, I played often chess. Even on competition level.
Sanne knew the basic rules of chess, but she would love to learn more about it. So we took the chess board and chess pieces and sat down to have a closer look at the game.

It was fun for me to be busy with chess again. And Sanne loved it and really wanted to learn more about the game. So we decided to play “chess on distance”. We both placed a chess board in our living rooms and sent each the moves by mail, text messages of things alike. I think I can say that we both enjoyed playing chess this way. And thing is, Sanne is a very good student. She picks things up very fast and was soon a good competition for me, which I really liked.

But now with Sanne here in Heemskerk, we decided to play some “normal” games of chess.

With some nice snacks, a good red wine for and Sanne and for me some beers, we played yesterday evening two games of chess. The first was stalemate and the second one was won by me. Both games we more than challenging. And I only won the second game because I managed to recapture a queen.
As said, a great way to spend the evening. I enjoyed it very much.

Another nice thing is that Sanne brought one of her dogs around (a “Drent”). So apart from the normal walks that dogs needs, we also will go (if the weather allows it) one of these days for a nice walk to one of the beaches around here. Fun for dog and human :-)

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by Rob on

Congratulations, Sanne! This was an awesome game of chess. More checkmate then this you could not get me :-).

I really enjoyed this game. It was a balanced and challenging game. Until the very end it was not clear who was on the winning hand. And I think we both gave each other some very nice surprises.

I take my lose as a gentleman and as said, next time when I am in Haaksbergen I will do the windows of your apartment!

I will keep the reward for winning the next game of doing the windows of my apartment (they really need to be done). So please choose the reward in case you win! :-)

The board is set up again. I am expecting your first move :)

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A game of Chess…

by Rob on

Yesterday, after the walk Sanne and I made on the beach of Zandvoort, back at my home, we chatted a bit. Poor Marion… she is of course often the subject of these conversations *WINK* . For those that don’t know it, Marion and Sanne are long time friends. They know each from the time that they went to school together and are really close friends who stand which each other in good times and in bad times. And I am glad that through Marion I got to know Sanne, who I consider now as very dear friend as well.

Anyway, Sanne noticed the chessboard that was standing against the side of the couch. She said that she would like to challenge me for a game of chess if she hadn’t known that in the past I played for some years chess on competition level. As it was for me very long ago that I played chess, I really liked the idea. I told Sanne that I am way off the level that I used to play and that I would love to play a game of chess with her.

With the first game Sanne made a made a fatal error in her opening moves, which leaded to a quick checkmate on her side. I explained where she went wrong and what she could have done to prevent the swift checkmate situation.
Luckily Sanne was not discouraged by this first defeat. On the contrary, she was wanted to do better. And so she challenged me for another game. And this time it went a lot better. She listened very well to the advice to take the time before making a move. Get the complete view. Try to see what the other is planning to do. And try to predict how the other will react on your move. And most of all, and this is the hardest part, try to think ahead.
As said, this game went a lot better. We played for close 3 hours. I loved it, two people concentrating on the chessboard between them… the silence of the room… only the breathing could be heard (… and of course my Zebra finches at times *LAUGH* ). And no, I didn’t forget that I was the host, so I served beer and snacks *SMILE* .
It was really a nice and challenging game. Where Sanne really gave me some hard times… I did win, but not as convincing as the first game. And I liked the challenge Sanne gave me during this game.
After the game I showed her how she was very close on a checkmate on me, that I only could prevent by offering my queen. Sanne already wondered why I gave my queen away…

As said, it was an excellent game!

Sanne told me that she would love to play more often chess with me. Something I would like too. But it shouldn’t ruin evenings when Marion (and others) are around. So I came up with the idea to place chess “on distance”, meaning that we both have set up a chessboard at our homes and that we transfer our moves by mail, text-message, MSN/Skype or whatever means we can use. This way you can concentrate on a next move when ever you have time. You can even think more and longer on a move, which might make the game even more challenging and exciting.

Yesterday we played already a new opening of a game here in Heemskerk. A very nice opening, if I may say so. I just mailed Sanne the moves we made so far (I will need a chess notebook again!). She said that she would buy tomorrow a nice looking chessboard and chess pieces that she can put up in her living room.

It is nice to play chess again *SMILE* . And Sanne, let me know when you are ready for my next move…

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