Round 6 of Pittsburgh Chess Club tournament: playing pragmatically

Black Ne4 sacrifice

Last week in round 5, I reported on a disastrous game I played in which I was mentally unbalanced and lost, for the second time in the current Pittsburgh Chess Club tournament, a game in which I was winning and went into an endgame one Pawn up.

In this week’s game, I also ended up in an endgame one Pawn up.

But I played pragmatically this time. I’ll explain what that means and why it is important.

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East End Food Co-op Winterfest 2012

Abby and I went to the annual East End Food Co-op Winterfest again, as we have done with John for the third year now. It was held again at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill.


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Pittsburgh Contras and Squares Holiday Ball 2012

Grand March

So this year I joined Abby again to play in the “Holiday Ball Orchestra” as I had done for the first time last year, for the annual Pittsburgh Contras and Squares Holiday Ball.

My experience at this year’s event compared to last year’s, and thoughts about the future:

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CreativeMornings/Pittsburgh, the first session: Nina Barbuto on "Making Learning a Party"

This morning, out of curiosity, Abby and I attended the inaugural CreativeMornings talk of the new Pittsburgh branch. Many thanks to Kate Stoltzfus for bringing this concept to Pittsburgh!

Nina Barbuto spoke on “Making Learning a Party”.

Creative Mornings - Pittsburgh - Dec 14th 2012-13

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Round 5 of Pittsburgh Chess Club Tournament: psychology of losing another won game

After losing a won game against a difficult opponent last week in round 4, I was hoping to redeem myself in round 5 this week by playing well. I played against a fellow Expert whom I had never played in a tournament game before, but had played a couple of blitz games with several years ago.

Unfortunately, I fell apart even more bizarrely than in last week’s game: I lost another won game, and threw away a draw at the last moment. I have lost two games in a row in which I had a winning position.

This is a report on the game and the raw psychological aspects of what happened.

Why? Well, over the years, many people have come up to me confused about what happened when I fell apart mysteriously in a chess game, and I always found it hard to explain, but this time, I’m giving as detailed an explanation as I can. This is not an easy exercise for me, because it inevitably means facing various demons and admitting to personal weaknesses I (still) have, but my mission since beginning to blog about chess has been to tell the unfiltered truth of what happens to us human, fallible chess players. Whether you already experience this as a serious tournament player or whether you do not play chess, I think you will find the psychology fascinating.

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RIP Charles Rosen, pianist and scholar

Charles Rosen, cover of "Music and Sentiment"

This book was written from the conviction that understanding music does not come from memorizing an esoteric code. ([Charles Rosen, *Music and Sentiment*, 2010](

Today, I heard that the noted pianist and musical scholar Charles Rosen died at 85 yesterday.

Charles Rosen

I type these words while his book of this year (2012), “Freedom and the Arts” is visible on my book shelf next to my computer: I had taken it out of the library a while back. I own copies of several of his previous books, starting with his famous [“The Classical Style”] which was my introduction to his thinking about music. I also own a number of his piano recordings.

Put simply, Charles Rosen changed the entire course of my life. Without him, my life would have been completely different, and I would have been a completely different person.

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Playing music on recorders at a Phipps Conservatory "candlelight evening"

Sam, Franklin, Annie, Helen, Mike

Entrance to Phipps

After almost two months of weekly music rehearsals, we (Annie, Helen, Mike, Sam, and I) finally performed as planned in Phipps Conservatory. It was a lot of fun. We came up with a huge batch of music that we hadn’t played at Phipps last year.

As people wandered around in the garden, sometimes they gathered to sit for a while to enjoy our music before moving on. We had our largest audiences earlier rather than later in the evening.

Audience at one point

A sample photo and video, which I took while Sam, Helen, and Mike were playing in a trio, while Annie and I took a break. (Since there were five of us, we took turns playing either as a quartet or trio or as a quartet with a part doubled.)


My full report on the event:

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My favorite Uncle Sam's sub

Last Sunday, after a long first rehearsal for the Holiday Ball Orchestra, I was starving, and since Abby was off in Weirton performing in a Pittsburgh Mandolin Orchestra, I decided to indulge in a dinner alone at the local Uncle Sam’s Subs in Squirrel Hill. I’ve been eating at Uncle Sam’s Subs periodically since moving to Pittsburgh 15 years ago. I’ve tried all the options (I ate out a lot more during my early grad school days in Pittsburgh), including, during my vegetarian phase, the really tasty Mediterranean, Vegetarian Combo, Roma Vegetable, Vegetable Florentine, and Grilled Portabella subs (see the menu). Read On →

Round 4 of Pittsburgh Chess Club tournament: the agony of losing a won game against the difficult opponent

After round 3 last week of the current Pittsburgh Chess Club Tuesday night tournament, I noted that I was going to face a difficult opponent in round 4.

Well, I lost my game against him tonight, after four hours of play (we were the last game to finish):

White resigned

This is the first chess game I’ve reported on in this blog in which I lost!

What lessons from losing?!

What makes this loss particularly agonizing is that I had an advantage for a long time in the game (and had a win at one point), and entered an endgame a solid Pawn up such that if I were playing for a draw, there would not be any way to fail, but instead I made error after error until I lost. Even worse, I actually had a drawn position just moves before I resigned.

Here’s what happened.

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Oblivion obsession: time to start playing melodica!

I have been obsessed for some time with Piazzolla’s beautiful tango piece “Oblivion”. I was planning to perform it some time on flute, but today, by accident, I decided that I want to play it on my melodica instead!

Hohner Student 32 Melodica

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