Thursday, October 1, 2009

GCR Ch 3: Evolution Theory and the Future of Humanity

I read Global Catastrophic Risks not only to deepen my understanding of global risks, but also to find ways to practically do something about it. Hopefully, blogging about the chapters as I digest them will assist on both accounts.

The book’s chapter 3 discusses our understanding of evolution, given the long perspective.

Evolution is not unique and has occurred several times in our history. Tool-making hominoids with communication skills have evolved independently in Africa (our ancestors), Europe (the ancestors of the Neanderthal) and south-east Asia (“hobbits”).

Environmental change is the major catalyst to drive evolution. Once species have filled their niches in the wake of an environmental change, adaption of organisms is only fine-tuned.

It has also been shown that in the last 40,000 years evolution has been driving our species forward, 100 times faster than before. Why this is so, is still unclear.

Today, psychological pressures and new environmental factors decide who among us reproduce.

When considering evolution, it is easy to focus on the physical adaption of organisms, but as humans evolve, it becomes increasingly important to consider intellectual evolution. We are still struggling to understand how to measure intelligence well. IQ is only one aspect of human intelligence, and has a low degree of inheritance. We still need to figure out if and how evolution can help humankind grow smarter over time. Although, in the near future, technical progress and the singularity are likely to supersede the process of evolution when it comes to improving the human race .

So how is evolution relevant to existential risks? It all comes down to how capable we will be in adapting to a changing environment. History has given us many examples of cultures going under because of their failure to survive a new environment. For example, the medieval Norse colonists in Greenland died out as they failed to change their eating habits, in a changing climate.

But, if climate change gives us enough time, our behavioral and societal models will have time to adapt.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Maturity of Agile Development

Recent discussions about the coexistence of the Capability Maturity Model (CMM) and agile development has prompted me to revisit my master's thesis on the subject.

Ten years ago, I was one of the first practitioners of eXtreme Programming (XP), a software development method that belongs to the agile development movement. The big stumbling block of these methods has always been how to introduce it in an organization. Mentioning the words "extreme programming" makes you fight an uphill battle from the start. Agile is definitely a better word when presenting it. But still, the adoption of agile development requires a shift in the organizational culture, which historically has been more formal.

After having participated in and coached a few pilot projects, I started to think about how to best introduce the method in a software organization. This thinking caused me to return to university to research the topic - the result was a master's thesis on the subject.

During my research, I considered the existing and accepted certification levels in the software industry and compared it with the agile way of developing software. The Capability Maturity Model (CMM) is the most widely accepted definition for measuring process and organizational maturity. It was developed by academics and industry experts and is used by the largest governmental organizations in the world. If I could find that XP was compatible with the CMM, it would be so much easier to introduce in software development organizations.

What I found went beyond compatibility between the CMM and XP - I actually found that XP is an excellent springboard for organizations that want to reach greater levels of CMM maturity! I presented my findings at the XP2003 conference and these results are still used by many organizations to convince risk-averse managers of the traits of agile development. Maturing Extreme Programming Through The CMM

It is interesting to see that today, the members of the agile community are still fighting the same battle. Scott Ambler, IBM's agile expert and evangelist, is working on an Agile Process Maturity Model (APMM), for the same reasons: to ease that adoption of agile methods in traditional software organizations.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Google Drive Templates For Product Managers

I created two new Google Drive document templates for Product Management work: a Product Requirements Document (PRD) and a Functional Specifications Document (FSD). These are central documents in the product development lifecycle. The requirements document is used for a product's business and marketing requirements, while the specification document further details how those requirements will be implemented in the product.

I'll start to dogfood these templates right away and will make updates along the way as needed. Please let me know if you find them useful or would like to see any changes!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

UN's Stagnating Initiatives Against Bioterrorism

With UN's failure to implement the strategy laid out by the former Secretary-General, who will protect humanity from one the most dangerous threats, bioterrorism

With great foresight, former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan brought the threat of bioterrorism to the UN agenda in 2006. In his recommendations for a global counter-terrorism strategy he writes: "The most important under-addressed threat relating to terrorism, and one which acutely requires new thinking on the part of the international community, is that of terrorists using a biological weapon. [...] They can [...] bring incalculable harm if put to destructive use by those who seek to develop designer diseases and pathogens. The answer to biotechnology’s dual-use dilemma will look very different [than that of nuclear weapons]. But the approach to developing it must be equally ambitious.[...] What we need now is a forum that will bring together the various stakeholders — Governments, industry, science, public health, security, the public writ large — into a common programme, built from the bottom up [...].The United Nations is well placed to coordinate and facilitate such a forum, and to bring to the table a wide range of relevant actors."

Later that same year, the United Nations adopted its Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (resolution 60/288). In regard to biological threats it calls for: "To invite the United Nations system to develop, together with Member States, a single comprehensive database on biological incidents, ensuring that it is complementary to the International Criminal Police Organization's contemplated Biocrimes Database. We also encourage the Secretary-General to update the roster of experts and laboratories, as well as the technical guidelines and procedures, available to him for the timely and efficient investigation of alleged use. In addition, we note the importance of the proposal of the Secretary-General to bring together, within the framework of the United Nations, the major biotechnology stakeholders, including industry, scientific community, civil society and governments, into a common programme aimed at ensuring that biotechnology's advances are not used for terrorist or other criminal purposes but for the public good, with due respect to the basic international norms on intellectual property rights."

With the new UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who took office in 2007, the initiatives have unfortunately stagnated. A worrying UN fact sheet dated March 2009 outlines the implementation of the strategy so far.

Firstly, The UN Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF) does not include any entity or initiative dedicated to combating bioterror.  Ban Ki-moon also admits that "there is no such thing as a bioterrorism unit within the UN system". Other important terrorist threats, such as the IAEA for nuclear matters and OPCW for chemical weapons, all have dedicated task forces, except for bioterrorism. Instead, the UN is handing over the task to existing bodies, such as the WHO and INTERPOL. The WHO's meager page on bioterrorism is not assuring in any way. INTERPOL's bioterror landing page is even more worrying, where an "upcoming" conference planned for March 2005(!) is highlighted. The world should tremble.

Secondly, the UN implementation haphazardly bundles biological threats with other types of terrorist threats. It is important to understand that biological threats pose a new set of problems that has not been previously encountered, and that strategies for fighting chemical and nuclear threats are not efficient when combating bioterrorism. Biological agents are relatively easy and inexpensive to obtain or produce; they can be easily disseminated; and they can cause widespread panic beyond any actual physical damage.

Thirdly, where is the promised UN-moderated forum/programme set out in the strategy document?

In contrast to the UN, the US government spends over $2B a year to prevent bio-attacks.

A unilateral approach is not enough to combat bioterrorism. We need a UN-led international forum today for going forward as a civilization and preventing biological terror attacks. It is critical that global policies and action plans are put in place to deal with "the most important under-addressed threat relating to terrorism". The global community cannot afford a late and disunited arrival - we might not get a second chance to learn from our mistakes.

Follow-up posts will address why bioterrorism is becoming rapidly more dangerous and what I believe that the global community should do to counter it.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Interview with Henrik Blomgren

For years, I've unsuccessfully tried to get many friends to start blogging. One of them is Henrik Blomgren, software consultant and small business owner.

Henrik and I go way back. At the turn of the millennium, we were both leading software teams at Swedish Framfab. As the IT bubble burst, and our hopes with it, Henrik built his own software firm and his journey has now taken him all the way to Zurich, Switzerland. Below is a short interview I did with him a while back.

Me: What motivated you to jump off the corporate bandwagon and start your own business?
Henrik: Two factors, the first not being in a position to influence or change things at Framfab, the second was a number of ideas I had back then that was not possible to realize as an employee.

Me: As a business owner, you currently focus on providing services over products. Was that a conscious decision and which do you think is the smarter strategy?
Henrik: Initially, my focus (this was 2002) was on creating niched software products, but before I got started I was offered a few short-term contract offers which I accepted - primarily in order to build up some capital. After a year, the market conditions got better and there were a lot of interesting contract jobs out there so I continued, with longer contracts and better rates.

I would not call it a smarter strategy, but much less risky and a much more predictable way to earn a monthly income.

Me: After running your own company for a couple of years you moved everything to Switzerland. How come?
Henrik: Again, multiple reasons. Compared to Sweden, Switzerland is a much more business-oriented country and offers considerably lower tax rates on both personal and corporate levels. This combined with providing equal or higher quality of living was an important factor. Being centrally located in Europe was another, both for business purposes and if you like to travel around. However, being close to the Alps has turned out to be the greatest bonus, especially during the winter.

Me: You introduced me to the book the 4-Hour Workweek. Are you there yet?
Henrik: No, I work considerably less hours now, and travel more, but I'm not sure that can be accredited to Timothy Ferriss.

Me: What is important to you? Where do you see yourself and your business ten years ahead?
Henrik: I have no idea. It's going to be interesting to see how the current crisis plays out; my guess is that the next ten years will be much tougher than the previous ten. Business opportunities will be fewer and consumers will be able to spend less, especially on technology. This prediction is based on the view that credit has been cheap and easily obtainable, and consumption (both private and business) has been driven by debt to a large extent.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

GCR Ch 2: Long-Term Astrophysical Processes

I read Global Catastrophic Risks not only to deepen my understanding of global risks, but also to find ways to practically do something about it. Hopefully, blogging about the chapters as I digest them will assist on both accounts.

NGC 3603 Photo: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble CollaborationThe book begins with discussing long-term astrophysical processes with a focus on the lifespans of our planet, solar system, galaxy and the Universe. These are the least immediate, but at the same time the most difficult risks to avoid. As such, there are not much we can do about them, right now. Hopefully, if we succeed to manage the other risks we're facing now and will face in the future, we will reach a point in time where we will have to deal the timely demise of the Earth, and later, the Universe.

3.5 billion years from now, the Sun will have exhausted its storage of hydrogen and increased its temperature enough for Earth's biosphere to be unable to sustain biological life. But even before Earth's temperature reaches that level, already 1 billion years from now it will be hot enough to disqualify all complex life. 7 billion years from now, the Sun, expanding as a red giant, will engulf Earth's orbit and devour it. A long-term goal for our species must be to find another habitable planet by the time that these events play out. A rescue plan for the Earth would be if we, or a passing star system, could eject it from its orbit before the Sun swallows the planet. In such a scenario we would have to rely on Earth's internal energy source. This is actually the only human intervention that is being addressed in this chapter of the book.

Our current model of the Universe tells us that it will continue to expand indefinitely, or at least long enough for all its major bodies to die a timely death. Perhaps this is the ultimate risk, a process which neither we nor anybody else can do anything to stop. It goes without saying that the current understanding of the Universe is not complete. There are still much to be learned, and with new discoveries our model of the Universe will change as well. The smallest stars in the universe will shine the longest, but even they expire after some trillion years. Their expiry, in combination with the consumption of hydrogen gas used in star formation, sets the time for the last stars to stop shining at about 100 trillion years ahead. This number should be compared to the current age of the young Universe, which is 14 billion years.

This is the end as we know it today. Let’s see how far we can get…

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sign-Up Closes For Online Chess Match Championships

The sign-up period for the inaugural Online Chess Match Championships is now over. The list of registered players for the two divisions are:

Open Division

Player Rating
ZwaartePaard 1942
Valiantangel 1866
leomalagar 1864
Acho 1861
tseltzer 1850
jonasil 1840
Tensaigg 1759
castleden 1745
SklavinLydia (tentative) 1737
surGeonGG 1660
TonyPrice -
jumong (tentative) -

Under 1600 Division

Player Rating
offtherook 1595
ranban    1576
farbror    1561
jerichob    1530
AHappyLearner    1484
caleblaziken    1456
edwaxx    1413
KasparovsDog    1385
Avie    1021

So, the Open Division will host 10-12 players and the U1600 Division 9.

I was considering different pairing systems for setting up the single-elimination cup brackets, including adopting the system used in the tennis ATP tour. After consulting with FICS user tseltzer, I am instead opting for a Swiss-like cup system where the top seed is not meeting the bottom seed, but instead the top seed from the bottom half.

Pairings will be posted in a couple of days on the Online Chess Match Championships site.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

On Survival

What if humanity were extinguished right now?

Have you ever considered that scenario?

No one can provide an accurate probability of such an event happening, but the fact that it could happen is indisputable. While personal survival is a major force for the individual, humankind's survival is the ultimate goal for us as a species. Individuals do almost anything in their power to prevent their own destruction, but what are we doing as a species to ensure our own survival?

I would argue that we're spending more effort protecting specific zoological and botanical species than ourselves. Although humanity is not an extinguished species, there are several kinds of events which could wipe us all out in a matter of hours. We cannot continue to neglect the importance of protecting the survival of humankind.

Threats are manifold and I plan to discuss these in future posts as I digest the book Global Catastrophic Risks, which deals with these important issues.

Chapters I have read:

Chapter 2: Long-Term Astrophysical Processes

Chapter 3: Evolution Theory and the Future of Humanity

Chapter 4: Millenial Tendencies in Response to Apocalyptic Threats

Chapter 5: Cognitive Biases Potentially Affecting Judgment of Global Risks

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Off the Back Burner?

How mundane it is to blog. I've put this blog on the back burner for many months now, as I've lacked inspiration for posting. Lately, I have been blogging exclusively about chess, which most likely doesn’t interest most of you. While it is a passion and I intend to keep posting occasionally on the subject, I don't want this blog (nor more life, for that matter) to focus on a board game. It is good to see that the small number of subscribers hasn't dwindled despite the chess focus of late, though.

Why blog? In the end, I want to use this space to improve my writing and also to serve as a two-way communication platform with anyone else out there in the depths of cyberspace.

Since I enjoy the creative process of writing, I will try to produce more stuff here, and perhaps from a more personal angle. I can't guarantee that it will work. But one thing's for sure: I will not promise to write more here; those are classical final words of the last post on dead blogs! But I will try.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Online Chess Match Championships

The Online Chess Match Championships is scheduled to take off on June 1. It is your chance to play in a chess tournament cycle similar to the official World Championships. The main reason that I organize this tournament is to make the excitement of chess matches available to everyone on the Internet. The games will be played on the free FICS chess server.

You can sign up right away!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Looking Back at My Match vs. RealChosenOne

My first match on Chess Matches HQ, was versus RealChosenOne. To me, chess matches are the ultimate form of chess; I especially enjoy the preparations between games.

Slated for 12 games, the match was unfortunately interrupted after only 7, as my opponent without explanation disappeared from all online chess communities. I still don’t know the reason behind this, but I hope that RealChosenOne is OK.

As I’ve always spent a disproportional amount of study on openings, I’d like to present a glimpse of what was played, including one strong novelty. As White, I faced the Sicilian Sveshnikov [B33] and as Black I defended with the 2..Nf6 Scandinavian.

As White

As White, I met the Sicilian Sveshnikov in games 2, 4, 6 and 7. All four games started with 1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 Nc6 3. d4 cxd4 4. Nxd4 Nf6 5. Nc3 e5 6. Ndb5 d6 7. Bg5 a6 8. Na3 b5 9. Bxf6 gxf6 10. Nd5.

Position after 10.Nd5

This is the main line Sveshnikov. From here, Black usually continues 10..f5. My opponent opted for this move only once in our match, while he chose the Novosibirsk variation with 10..Bg7 in the other three.

When he played the main 10..f5 move, the game continued 11. Bd3 Be6 12. O-O Bxd5 13. exd5 Ne7 14. Nxb5 Bg7 15. Nc3 e4 16. Bc4 Ng6 17. Qh5 Bxc3 18. bxc3 Qf6 19. Qh6 Qxc3 20. Bb3 Ke7

Position after 20..Ke7

Here, I had prepared a theoretical novelty, 21. Rae1!?N. Soon afterwards, I went astray and lost the game. In the end, I don’t think the novelty gives White anything, so this was a failed preparation. I felt hard pressed to find an improvement here, and was very relieved when my opponent didn’t repeat 10..f5 in the next game!

The Novosibirsk games were interesting. From the position in the topmost diagram all 3 games continued with the standard moves 10..Bg7 11. Bd3 Ne7 12. Nxe7 Qxe7. The first time this position came up, I went for the unambitious 13. c3 and quickly found myself in trouble. Next time, I improved and found the sharper 13. O-O O-O 14. c4 f5 15. Qf3 Re8 16. Rfe1 b4 17. Nc2 f4 18. Nxb4 Rb8 19. Nd5 Qg5 20. Be2 Rxb2.

Position after 20..Rxb2

In this position I had prepared the strong novelty 21. Qa3!N. Previously, 21. Reb1 has been played (Zhigalko-Saric 1-0, Pardubice, 2006) with equal play, but after the text move White has a clear advantage as he puts pressure on the Black pawns while keeping an eye on the 3rd rank. For example 21..Rb7 22. Rab1 Re6? 23. Qa6! and White is already winning.

As Black

As Black, I faced three different setups against my Nf6 Scandinavian. I equalized early in all three games, and subsequently won them all. There were no major theoretical battles; mainly because White kept changing variations. The following interesting tactical position arose in Game 5 after 17. Kh4.

Position after 17.Kh4

After spending more than half an hour on this position I played 17..g5?? which leads to equality after the prosaic 18.Bxg5. Unfortunately, I missed the beautiful mate in 7 moves, after 17..Nxe3!! 18.Qxe3 h5! 19.h3 Bf4 20.Qe6+ fxe6 21.Nf3 Qf6+ 22.Ng5 Qxg5#

I am already well underway with match number 2, this time against tseltzer. I can already now say that he has succeeded in putting my opening repertoire under heavy fire, and I have had strong reason to evaluate my opening choices more than once.

And, on June 1, the inaugural Online Chess Match Championships will start, and it is poised to be great! If you are a chess fan, don’t miss out on this free tournament cycle that I am organizing. Sign up here!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

HOWTO: Play Chess Online

The most efficient way to improve your chess is to play lots of games.
The online chess community makes it easy to find opponents of any skill level. This is the reason why the number of great young chess players is much greater today; anybody can gain experience on the Internet, 24/7. In the old days, players had to travel to tournaments to gain the same experience that can now be gained in an online equivalent overnight.
So, you ask, how do I best take advantage of the online chess offerings to gain experience and improve my chess?
First, select a server that is dedicated to chess. More generic game servers that offer a multitude of board games invariably offer a worse experience and a weaker community for the chess fan.
Second, choose a server that has a decent amount of players logged in at any given time, so that you always can find an opponent that wants to play at your preferred time control.
Third, go for an intuitive interface that fits your requirements.
Fourth, depending on your preferences, you will want a server where tournaments are organized and where there is a vivid and well managed community.
The three chess servers I would shortlist are FICS, ICC and chess.com. I do not want to rank them, because they offer slightly different experiences and it is a personal choice which server will best fit you. All of them hosts a large number of players at any time, and they regularly organize leagues and tournaments for both individuals and teams. There are also organizations like Chess Matches HQ and STC Bunch that welcome players from multiple servers. Below, I give a summary of the pros and cons of each chess server.
FICS (freechess.org)
Pros: Free, Many interfaces are available.
ICC (chessclub.com)
Pros: Many strong players
Cons: Not free ($59.95/year)
chess.com
Pros: Free, strong community features, no download required
Cons: Not very strong players, bare-bones browser-based client
I play on FICS myself, mainly because it is free and I love the interface. For quick blitz games I prefer the free BabasChess client, which can be a bit intimidating at first, but is very powerful. For example, it supports move announcements and third-party plug-ins.
But I prefer to play longer games, say an hour per game and player. The problem with online chess is that you are using a computer interface, while a part of the chess experience that I love is to play on a standard wooden board with real pieces. The most common solution is to use a DGT board, a standard chess board that connects to a computer via USB (wireless connections are in the works) and allows you to play online chess. This solution is used in all major real-life tournaments to broadcast games live over the Internet. The problem is that investing in a DGT board will require tough financial negotiations with your significant other, the price tag for a standard setup is €479,00.
Isn't there a cheaper solution out there?
Yes, there is! I'd like to share with you the environment I have been using lately. It is a setup that I am very satisfied with. I use a standard full-size wooden chess board, to play my games far away from a buzzing computer fan and a glaring computer monitor. I log in to the chess server using the PocketGrandmaster software (version 4 supports both FICS and ICC) on my Pocket PC. The Pocket PC connects to the Internet via a USB cable to my silent media center that sits in the living room - but a Wi-Fi connection could work even better. When I play a game, PocketGrandmaster says my opponent's moves out loud, so that I don't need to take my eyes off the board. To submit a move, I first move the piece on the real board and then use the Pocket PC’s touch screen to submit the same move to the server. The difference from the DGT board is not huge and the only pain is that I need to make my own moves twice, while the DGT board automatically detects the moves made on the board. But, I can definitely live with this limitation, considering the price difference.
PICT0175

Game 1 in Match Against tseltzer

Yesterday, the opening game of a new 12-point chess match against tseltzer was played on FICS. I am having great hopes and expectations that it will turn out to be a close and exciting series of games. The fact that both our ratings are identical (1825) at the start of game 1 bodes well.

During my preparations as White I learned that my opponent uses a clever move order as Black against my king’s gambit to avoid the bishop’s gambit lines: 1.e4 e5 2.f4 d5 3.exd5 exf4!?. After this, White does best in transposing into the modern defense lines of the king’s gambit, which I also did in game 1. Black was not properly prepared for the line I played (4.Nf3 Nf6 5.Bc4), and after some inaccuracies I early gained a clear advantage, and delivered mate in move 21.

It will be very interesting to see how my opponent will deviate in his next game as Black.

Game 1 can be viewed here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

TeamLeague T38: My 5th Round Game

After a painful 0.5-3.5 loss in round 5, our team is no longer in contention of reaching the playoffs. One round remains, but without any real significance. I am starting to plan on finding an even-matched match opponent when the league finishes.

Below is my 5th round game. In the diagram position below, I am clearly winning, but blundered away the game on a silly mistake on move 28.

Fuzion (1740) – Jonas Martinsson (1808) [B01]
TeamLeague T38 Free Internet Chess Server (5), 15.03.2009

1.e4 d5 2.exd5 Nf6 3.Nf3 Qxd5 4.d4 Bg4 5.Be2 Nc6 6.c4 Qf5 7.h3 Bxf3 8.Bxf3 Qa5+?

[8...0-0-0=]

9.Nc3 0-0-0 10.Bxc6 bxc6 11.0-0 e5 12.Qf3?

[12.d5 cxd5 13.cxd5 Nxd5 14.b4!+/=]

12...exd4 13.Ne4 Nxe4 14.Qxe4 Qc5 15.b3N

[RR 15.b4 Qxc4-/+ 16.Bg5 f6 17.Rfc1 Qd5 18.Qg4+ Rd7 19.Bd2 Bd6 20.Rc2 f5 21.Qd1 d3 22.Rc3 Be5 23.Rc5 Qe6 24.Rac1 Qxa2 25.Rxe5 Qa6 26.Qf3 g6 27.Rxc6 Qb7 28.b5 Rd6 29.Qe3 Rhd8 Gulati,J (2122)-Lynn,J (1871)/Edmonton 2005/CBM 107 ext/1-0 (33)]

15...f5?!

[15...Bd6=/+]

16.Qd3

[16.Qe6+!? Kb7 17.Bg5 Qd6 18.Qxf5 Re8=]

16...Qe5 17.Bb2 Bd6 18.f4?

[18.g3=]

18...Qe3+ 19.Qxe3 dxe3 20.Bxg7 e2!-+ 21.Rfe1 Bc5+ 22.Kh2 Rhe8 23.Be5 Rd2 24.Kg3

game_3

24...Rg8+?

This is the wrong plan. [24...Red8 wins quickly.]

25.Kf3 h5 26.h4 Rgd8

With this move, Black gets back on the winning track.

27.g3 R8d3+ 28.Kg2 Rd1??

I simply didn't see that White's rook on a1 is defended by the bishop, and White can therefore simply eat the pawn. [28...Rc2 29.Bf6 Rd1-+ is one straightforward continuation that wins immediately.]

29.Rxe2= Rxa1?

Shaken after throwing away my winning advantage, I throw away the game.

30.Bxa1 Rd1 31.Bc3 Rd3 32.Bf6 Be3 33.Be7 Kd7 34.Bb4 c5 35.Be1 Bd4 36.Bf2 Rd1 37.Kf3 Rd3+ 38.Kg2 Rd1 39.Bxd4 cxd4 40.Kf2?!

[40.Re5+-]

40...d3

[>=40...Ra1+/-]

41.Rb2 Rh1 42.Rd2 Rh2+ 43.Ke3 Rxd2 44.Kxd2 Kd6 45.Kxd3 c5 46.a3 a5 47.Kc3 Kc6 48.b4 cxb4+ 49.axb4 axb4+ 50.Kxb4 Kb6 51.c5+ Kc7 52.Kc4 Kc6 53.Kd4

1-0

Friday, March 13, 2009

TeamLeague T38: My 4th Round Game

In round 4 of TeamLeague, my game was left to be played last for my team. We were leading 2-1 before my game started, so I needed at least a draw to secure the team win.

I came out clearly worse of another declined Benko gambit, but my opponent failed to capitalize on my choice of opening, and we eventually reached an even rook endgame (the 2nd diagram below). However, that endgame was badly mistreated by yours truly…

Interesting to note is that in all four games, my opening gambits have been declined. Party-poopers!

ValenceJordan (1936) - Jonas Martinsson (1821) [A57]
Teamleague T38 (Round 4), 11.03.2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.d5 b5 4.Nf3 Bb7 5.e3

I was unprepared for this move. In our previous encounter ValenceJordan played 5. Nbd2

5...bxc4 6.Bxc4 e6 7.Nc3 exd5 8.Nxd5 Nxd5N

[RR 8...Nc6 9.Bd2 Be7 10.0-0 0-0 11.Bc3 Ne4 12.Qd3 Nxc3 13.bxc3 Na5 14.Bb5 Bf6 15.Rac1 d6 16.Rfd1 Be5 17.c4 Nc6 18.Rb1 Qa5 19.Bxc6 Bxc6 20.Ne7+ Kh8 21.Nxc6 Qxa2 22.Ncxe5 dxe5 23.Nxe5 Sokolova,O-Hvostova,I/Kolontaevo 1997/EXT 1999/1-0]

9.Bxd5 Qc7?

[9...Bxd5 10.Qxd5 Nc6+/=]

10.Ng5 f6

game_1

11.Ne4?

[11.Qh5+ g6 12.Qf3 Bxd5 13.Qxd5 fxg5 14.Qxa8+-; 11.Nf7 Rg8 12.Nd6+ Bxd6 13.Bxg8 Nc6 14.Bxh7+-]

11...Bxd5 12.Qxd5 Qc6 13.Qxc6 Nxc6= 14.Ke2 d5 15.Nc3 d4 16.Nb5 Rd8?!

[16...Rb8 17.Na3 (17.Nc7+?! Kf7-/+) 17...Rd8=/+]

17.Rd1?!

[17.exd4 cxd4 18.Bf4 d3+ 19.Kd2 Bb4+ 20.Kd1 d2=]

17...Kf7?!

[17...a6 18.Nc7+ Kd7 19.Nd5 (19.Nxa6? Ra8-/+) 19...Bd6 20.exd4 cxd4=/+]

18.exd4 Nxd4+ 19.Nxd4 cxd4 20.Bf4 Bd6 21.Bxd6 Rxd6 22.Rac1

game_2

22...Re8+?

[22...Ra6 is more active, and the correct way to play this rook endgame. The text move leads to a clearly better and more active position for White. 23.a3 Rb8 24.Rc2 Re6+ 25.Kd3 Rb3+ 26.Kxd4 Rd6+ 27.Kc4 Rxb2 28.Rxb2 Rxd1 29.Rb7+ Kg6 30.Rxa7 Rd2=]

23.Kd3 Re7 24.Rc4 Kg6 25.Rd2+/- Red7 26.Ke4 Re7+ 27.Kd3 Red7 28.Re2 f5 29.Re5 Kf6 30.Ra5 Rb6 31.b3 Rbd6 32.Rca4 Rc7 33.Rxd4 Rdc6 34.Rc4 Rxc4 35.bxc4 Ke6 36.Kd4 Rd7+ 37.Rd5 Rxd5+

[37...Rb7 puts up a tougher defense, but White is winning in any case. The rest is just a formality.]

38.cxd5+ Kd6 39.f4 h6 40.h4 h5 41.a3 a6 42.a4 a5 43.g3 g6 44.Kc4 Kd7 45.Kc5 Kc7 46.d6+ Kd7 47.Kd5 Kd8 48.Ke6 Ke8 49.d7+ Kd8 50.Kf6 Kxd7 51.Kxg6 Ke6 52.Kxh5 Kf6 53.Kh6 Kf7 54.Kg5 Kg7 55.Kxf5 Kh6 56.g4 Kh7 57.g5 Kh8 58.h5 Kh7 59.h6 Kh8 60.g6 Kg8 61.g7 Kh7 62.Kf6 Kg8 63.f5 Kh7 64.Kf7 Kxh6 65.g8Q Kh5 66.Qg3 Kh6 67.Qg6#

1-0

Monday, February 23, 2009

TeamLeague T38: My 3rd Round Game

Now that FeedJournal posts have their own blog, I'll take a more liberal approach to what I post here. With the risk of losing subscribers, I am now starting to post about anything that relates to my life – because that is and will remain the “niche” for this blog. Today, I make the first post about chess, a new subject here.

I currently participate in TeamLeague #38, an online team chess tournament, playing for Poisoned Pawns, in the under 1800 division. After two rounds we're 1-1, and in the middle of the table.

In Round 3, my team plays the group leader, Arch Bishops. Here's my game, where my opponent goes for a rather dull choice of opening.

Novita (1835) - Martinsson,Jonas (1821) [D94]
TeamLeague T38 (Round 3), 22.02.2009

1.d4 Nf6 2.c4 c5 3.e3

The Anti-Benoni gives Black a choice of defenses, typically transposing into a Queen's Gambit, a Tarrasch or even a Caro Kann. I find the Grunfeld setup to be an easy equalizer for Black.

3...cxd4 4.exd4 g6 5.Nf3 Bg7 6.Be2 0-0 7.Nc3 d5 8.0-0 Nc6= 9.Be3 Bg4 10.Qd2?!

[RR 10.Ne5 Bxe2 11.Qxe2 dxc4 12.Nxc6 bxc6 13.Qxc4 Ng4 14.h3 Nxe3 15.fxe3 Rc8 16.Rad1 Qb6 17.Rf2 e5 1/2-1/2 Keres,P (2615)-Browne,W (2500)/Amsterdam 1971/MCL]

10...dxc4 11.Bxc4N

[RR 11.Rfd1 Nd5=/+ 12.Bh6 Nxc3 13.bxc3 b5 14.h3 Bf5 15.a4 Na5 16.Bxg7 Kxg7 17.Nh4 Bd7 18.Qb2 Nb3 19.Ra3 a6 20.Bf3 Rb8 21.Be4 bxa4 22.Qe2 Bb5 23.Nf3 Qd6 24.Ra2 Rfc8 25.h4 e6 Lay,A-Reich,N/Hamburg 1998/EXT 1999/0-1]

11...Bxf3 12.gxf3=/+

White's pawn formation is severely damaged and the bishop pair is not sufficient compensation.

12...Rc8 13.Bb5 a6 14.Be2 Qa5 15.Rfd1 Nd5 16.Nxd5 Qxd5 17.Rac1 Qxa2

Perhaps increasing the pressure on the isolated d pawn with Rfd8 is slightly better, but Black enjoys an advantage in both lines.

18.Bc4

[18.d5! Nb8 19.Rxc8 Rxc8 20.Rc1=/+]

18...Qa5-/+ 19.Qe2 e6

[19...Nxd4! wins the pawn immediately, but I missed this continuation. 20.Bxd4 Qg5+ 21.Kf1 Bxd4 22.Bxf7+ Kxf7 23.Rxc8 Rxc8 24.Rxd4 Rc1+-+]

20.d5 exd5 21.Bxd5

21...Nd4! 22.Bxf7+

[22.Bxd4 Rxc1 23.Rxc1 Bxd4 24.Qe4 Bxf2+-+]

22...Kxf7 23.Bxd4 Rxc1 24.Rxc1 Qg5+ 25.Kh1 Qxc1+

0-1

Monday, February 2, 2009

Swedish Keyboard Layout for 64-Bit Windows

My freely available and improved Swedish Keyboard layout has now been updated to support 64-bit versions of Windows. You can find out more about the freeware product here.

For the last ten years I have neither used the native Swedish keyboard layout, nor the standard US keyboard layout. Instead, I have been a happy user of my own design: US with Swedish characters. It allows me to use the benefits of the US keyboard layout in combination with quick and unobtrusive access to the additional Swedish letters (å, ä and ö).

As previously announced, Linux users can find a version of the keyboard layout here.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

FeedJournal Has Its Own Blog

It is about time that FeedJournal gets a blog of its own, instead of being squeezed in here, on its founder’s personal blog.

Although subscribers could use the label feed to subscribe only to FeedJournal related posts on my blog, I feel that it is better to niche the content in it’s own blog. My main reason for putting it off as long as I have, is the post frequency – I simply haven’t posted enough to warrant two separate blogs. My aim is to invite other FeedJournal users and enthusiasts to share their experiences with the service on the new FeedJournal blog, to help keep the content fresh there. New posts on the FeedJournal blog, will automatically be published in new FeedJournal Reader issues.

The new blog is available here.

Here, on my personal blog, I will continue my personal musings and random non-niched posts. Don’t expect more than a couple of posts a month here. All FeedJournal related stuff will go into the new blog.