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"Hmm. Maybe I shuold just rip his heart out."

“Hmm. Maybe I should just rip his heart out.”

Via Richard Iorio. That touch-move rule is the source of so many fatal chess games

An Italian man allegedly cut open his Dublin landlord’s chest and tried to eat his heart following a fight over a chess match.

Saverio Bellante, 34, was charged Monday with murder. Police say he admitted his guilt after being arrested Sunday at the home he shared with Tom O’Gorman, a policy researcher for a conservative Catholic think tank in Ireland.

Pathologists said the 39-year-old victim suffered dozens of severe knife wounds to his head and chest, which had been cut fully open. Ireland’s senior pathologist determined that the heart remained, but a lung was missing.

Police offered no explanation for what happened to the lung. Evidence suggested that O’Gorman’s prone head and body also were bludgeoned with a dumbbell.

In the old days, Alekhine used to throw his king against the wall in disgust after a loss. Now, if you can’t beat your foe, you just eat his heart.

So much more civilized.

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I started a new correspondence chess section this week, under the auspices of the CCLA. This is my third event with this group since leaving the US Chess Federation (You think Congress is screwed up? Try the USCF.), and I’ve been mostly happy with how things have gone. The people seem friendly and the officials helpful. Aside from one major glitch with my entry into my second event, all has gone well.

While some people still play correspondence chess by post card, more and more play is online via email or, increasingly, a web server. Web server play is great: the system keeps the official game score and watches the time limits (in CCLA, you have 40 days to make 10 moves). All you have to do is worry about your moves – and what your opponents are cooking up.

I’m playing in a section of people rated roughly equally (my own CCLA rating is about 1670 – “Class B”). I have four opponents, and we each play two games against each other: one as White and another as Black. It’s early days yet, as we’re still making our opening moves, but things have already gotten interesting in a couple of games. Here’s the position in one:

Stuart v. Ragan

Stuart v. Ragan, CCLA Fall Server series S90251

I’m playing Black, and Mr. Stuart has just played 10. Bb5, threatening and pinning my knight. (No kibbitzing, please. We’re not allowed help with our games. I do think I have a slight advantage in this position, however.) This game had started as a kind-of Trompowsky Attack, but had evolved into into something resembling a reversed Scandinavian Defense. A bit weird, since the Scandinavian is my main defense against 1.e4.  Just this morning, however, I realized that the pawn structure most resembled a reversed Slav Defense. I’ve never played with or against a Slav in my life, though it bears some resemblance to the Scandinavian.  If this confuses you, think how I feel! I have some studying to do.

Meanwhile, it’s always fun to start a new section. I’ll try to post updates as they occur.

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Bits and bobs

My writing partner and I had a good morning working together today. Our spec script for Without a Trace I think is in pretty good shape, but now we’re at a point where we need outside eyes to tell us what’s working and what doesn’t. Sadly, our current writer’s group is pretty useless. I wish we could find a stronger one.

The Without a Trace web site has a neat section: a link to this week’s featured missing person. Click here to have a look.

We’re down to five panda cories: another one bit the dust a few days ago. This is frustrating: I can only assume these two were weakened in some way, since I’m 99% sure I’m giving them good care. But still, I didn’t get back into this hobby to bring home fish to die. I’ve just fed them and, watching, three are swimming around searching for food, but two are hanging back, under the driftwood. I hope that’s not a bad sign.

I recently let my membership to the US Chess Federation expire. (Chess has been one of my main hobbies since I was a kid, but I’m an awful player. Anand has nothing to fear.) I just grew tired of the toxic politics and, since I play only by correspondence or Internet, and since the magazine is being gutted by the chuckleheads who dominate the Executive Board (Revenues are declining … I know, let’s cut services! That will bring people back!), I just felt it was no longer worth my dollars. So, I’ve joined CCLA instead. (It’s been around in one form or another since 1897.) Mostly to avoid being dropped from an ICCF event I’m playing in, but I think, with its lower dues, CCLA will be a better value for me.

As long as people don’t cheat by using computers. Waiting

So, I’m taking this Monday and next off. How am I enjoying my two three-day weekends? By burying my nose in books and writing like a madman to meet a deadline for a book project. Whee. Sure, it pays money, but I’d really hadn’t planned to be cooped up at home. Of course, if Your Host hadn’t been a dope and left most of the work for the last minute….

Oh well. At least in this modern age it’s okay for me to take no personal responsibility for myself and instead blame others.

So I blame George Bush. Doesn’t everyone? Winking

Time to get dinner on the table. Steak night — yum!

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