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Jennifer's Blog
By Jennifer Shahade   
December 12, 2006

Photo Jacob Okada

The Holidays stress a lot of people out. There is a three pronged juggling act: helping strangers, being kind and thoughtful to those you love and not going broke. I've always loved the Holidays despite all that. Giving, receiving and the smell of pine needles are my favorite parts, in no particular order. Chess Life Online got a holiday gift recently (Thanks Mike!)- we can now present polls like the following one. Choose carefully- Santa may be monitoring your keystrokes.

Simul and Recognition

Last weekend I went to Washington D.C. for a simultaneous exhibition. I played the following game against the organizer, John Farrar in a mall prior to the exhibition.


White resigned after 15.Bc3?? in view of 15....Qxa2+ 16.Kc1 Qa1# 15.Qc3 would have kept the game going, but I like Black after 15....Qa2 16.Kc1 Rc8 17.Qa3! Qxa3 18.ba3 Nh5. Fritz says this position is equal, but it's so much easier for Black to play (yummy square on f4 for my knight, equally tasty square on c3 for my rook.), that I'd feeling like I was winning as Black.

A parent and his kid recognized me at the mall, which made me laugh because five minutes before John had asked me if I was recognized often in public, and I said no. A day later, I was recognized again, by a stranger in a bookstore, this time erroneously: "You're Lisa Nova, aren't you!?" Lisa is a Youtube.com star, and we both have big noses and long hair with blond streaks)

The start of my forty board simul in the D.C. area.

The simultaneous was forty boards and a lot of fun but very tough--I lost a couple games, and many in which I was up a rook or something were left unfinished. I really hate not finishing simul games, which is part of the reason I hop around at simuls at rapid speed-I'd much rather lose a game or two than not finish, which seems dishonorable to me. But in this case, I had to stop because a. there was a group clamoring to claim their rental of the room, and b. I had a train to catch to my father's 60th birthday in Philly.

This Holiday season, I'm going on a special non chess related, two-week trip to Israel with Irina Krush. I used to go away often for chess tournaments during Holiday seasons- even Thanksgiving, my very favorite holiday. I was in Las Vegas a couple of times during Christmas time for the North American Open, which is a funny feeling. Time doesn't stop in Las Vegas, and no amount of Christmas decorations can dent the general gaudiness. I've also missed Holidays at home to be in Iceland, Istanbul,San Francisco and San Diego. Constant travelling is the best and worst aspect of the professional chess circuit.

While I'm gone, you may notice that Chess Life Online will continue to be updated, but slightly less frequently. I will be back in late December, with lots of pictures and thoughts from my trip.In the mean time, feel free to e-mail me at[email protected]with your ideas for Top Ten Chess Resolutions.


Holiday Jokes

I attended a Holiday party last week in which guests were required (lest they be denied candy canes) to write down Holiday jokes and pick up lines, after which everyone voted on the funniest ones. This inspired me to enlist the help of my USCL team-mates to come up with a few seasonal chess jokes:
1. What Does Santa Give to Naughty Chess Kids?
A sack full of isolated pawns!
2. How do you checkmate a snowman?
Global Warming will take care of that.
3. What is Santa's chess style?
He's the World Champion of give-away
4. What does a chessplayer write to Santa at the end of the year?
Dear Santa, I have been good: I took care of my development;I remained active; I even secured a promotion last weekend.
5. How are chessplayers different than the rest of the world?
They want to have a Black and White Christmas!

Your move
We got a very sweet entry for Top Ten Things Chessplayers Should be Thankful for by Brenan Nierman. The entries didn't fit in with the humorous vein I was going for, but it's a great list in its own right.

Top Ten Things Chess Related things Brenan is Thankful for:

1. Irina Krush, my teacher
2. Fred Wilson, who is an inspiration to all adults who are trying to improve
3. That I lived during the age of Kasparov
4. chess notation, so we can play over games of the past
5. our defeats, so we can learn how to improve
6. our victories that keep the hope of playing one truly beautiful game in our lifetime alive
7. internet chess
8. the advent of the US Chess League
9. tournament directors and organizers, who devote their time to enabling us to play in tournaments
10. our opponent in every game. Without her or him, we would not have a chance to play

Alan Soble wrote GM Joel and me a letter about his own struggle in the chess aftermath of Katrina. Be sure to help him at [email protected]if you have any leads:

I'm wondering if you could squeeze a few words into your column to help me with a problem. I used to live in New Orleans. I lost my home to the hurricane and floods. One thing I lost was my entire collection of game scores from all the tournaments I played in during my life -- all my rated USCF games from the 1960s on. Somehow, I would like to try to reconstruct this collection. Might you very briefly ask anyone who has played me and still has the score to send me a copy? (I once beat Walter Shipman, Kimball Nedved, Jonathan Tisdall, Ricky Abrams, and Frank Street. I doubt they'd send me the scores.) I've played in Philadelphia and its surrounding cities, Buffalo, NY, Utica, NY, Minnesota, Indiana, Texas, and elsewhere.

I wish everyone a great Holiday!