Chess and business intelligence

Business intelligence is about being able to extract and analyze business-related data so that one is able to make better decisions.

There is a large number of commercial and open source BI tools, all of which are doing a great job at exposing the data you have, calculating various statistics about your business, slicing, dicing and graphing the data in a visually compelling way.

The dirty-little-secret of BI: in most cases, you are overwhelmed with data and statistics, but you are still on your own to decide: “based on all this data, graphs, and statistics — what should I do?”

 

How is this related to Chess?

Well, the analogy recently occurred to me:

  1. We continuously improve our chess knowledge: opening theory, end-game theory, middle game tactics, etc. These are the tools.
  2. When analyzing a position, we typically make commentary about what is going on (out loud or to ourselves), like “white is better”, or “this bishop is doing nothing” or “that pawn is weak”. This is like using the tools to compute statistics and create graphs.
  3. The hard part is making the decision: with all this analysis,  what is the best next move? 

With a good memory, pattern recognition skills, hard work, focus, and enough time — it’s relatively easy to be very good at #1 and #2.

The difficulty is with #3.

That’s where the real mastery lies!

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Chess as Art

I like Seth Godin’s definition of Art:

“Art is what we’re doing when we do our best work”.

We all enjoy Art, but creating the Art is more difficult and rare:

  • Many people read and enjoy books, but very few are good at writing them
  • Many people enjoy seeing paintings by Monet and Picasso in a museum, and appreciate their quality; very few actually create paintings, let alone ones that become classics
  • It’s relatively easy to read a computer program and understand what it does (or find a bug). It’s much more difficult to craft well designed computer programs.

Chess is no different. It’s fun to watch a game and observe brilliant moves. It’s much more difficult to make a brilliant move, especially when the clock is ticking.

 

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The Marshall Swindle

We just saw “Tower Heist” with Ben Stiller & Eddie Murphy last night, and I have to say it’s a great movie.

In the movie, they mention “The Marshall Swindle”, a term coined after famous GM Frank James Marshal. The term is often used to mean “a diabolically clever move or combination that turns the tables on the opponent.”

I was intrigued and looked up the famous 1912 game.
Can you see what the next move is and why it’s so brilliant?

 

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GMAD

Here’s a new “program” I am trying with Daniel & Jordan.

GMAD = Grand-Master A Day.

Every day we pick a famous grand master, and:

  1. Read on Wikipedia about him or her, their favorite openings, etc
  2. Analyze one of their famous games

This is a great way to improve your chess while at the same time learn about the history of chess, as well as other topics such as politics, geography and the like.

Our first GM will be Bobby Fisher, and we will look at his 3rd game against Boris Spassky in the 1972 world championship.

(Our second will be GM Dejan Bojkov)

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The Dip


The Dip

The Dip

A few years ago, I read Seth Godin’s wonderful little book “The Dip

Seth explains that if you want to be “the best” at something, you must prepare for a difficult journey. If it was easy, then anyone could be the best.

Initially, your success may come relatively easily, and your performance improves rapidly. But then comes the difficult part – the dip – where your feel that you can’t make any progress, and doubt sneaks in — is that all I can be?

This is where most people quit. Only those few who keep going and make it to the “other side of the dip” become true masters. And that’s why they are so rare.

 

This weekend Daniel played at the US National G30/G60 in California.

He did ok in the G60 (winning 2/4 games). When he lost his first game of G30 — he was quite upset; so much so that I was wondering if he might quit the tournament altogether at that point.

So I drew the dip diagram for him, and explained the theory behind it. “You are now in the dip”, I said. “If you truly want to make it to the other side, you have to make an effort and get there. It’s not easy”. This had a big, positive impact on him. He went on to win all 4 subsequent games, and ended up tied for 3rd place overall. I was very proud of him.

 

By the way, I also played in both tournament, and had lots of fun. Here’s one of my games, where I blundered (opponent took my rook), but then recovered with a queen trap:

 

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Chess in Israel

Now that Boris Gelfand is the challenger for Viswanathan Anand for the World Chess Championship 2012, Israel is formally a chess “super-power”.

This summer, we went to our annual visit in Israel to spend quality time with family and friends.

Daniel had an opportunity to play in a local tournament (Kfar Saba Open) in the U1750 section, and continued to compete as part of a team at the Israel  Team Championship for kids under 14 years. We are very thankful to Lior from Chess4all for his support of Daniel during this tournament.

Here is one game Daniel was especially proud of, and was impatient to analyze with his coach Ted Castro as soon as he got back to the US.

On move 25, a nice Bishop sacrifice leads to a checkmate.

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