Searching for Bobby Fischer became one of my favourites when I first saw it in a theatre in 1993. I was hooked after the opening narration by 8-year-old Max Pomeranc that recounts Bobby Fischer‘s rise to fame as one of the best chess players in the world and ends with the whispered words: “He disappeared.” Then we discover the narrator is a child prodigy, a genius chess player who some call a young Bobby Fischer. But where Bobby Fischer was a nut, this kid stays on a path that keeps him sane. He plays baseball and goes fishing and doesn’t have a mean bone in his body. It’s a good story and a good movie.
There is no trailer available online, but there is this scene:
All players starts off with the same rating (1200), which gets adjusted based on your completed games and the ratings of your opponents. A special formula is used to quickly approximate your playing ability during the first 20 rated games, so even if you are much higher rated, it won’t take long to establish your real rating on GameKnot.
Things I like about Gameknot:
Their rating system.
They include functions to analyze the board while playing, allowing you to easily test future positions without picturing them in your head.
You can annoate moves and take notes about games, although I don’t see myself using that.
The interface is clean and intuitive.
The site is quick and responsive.
Things I don’t like:
They display ads, and when you disable them (via AdBlock Plus or similar tools), GameKnot will send you a message that your membership could be deleted if you continue to use ad blocking software. So I’ve learned to live with the ads, which I’ll never click.
Free membership is limited to 12 or so concurrent games.
I used to play chess a lot in Junior High school, where Paul Cooper and I led our team to provincial championships. I haven’t played seriously since then, although I’ve dabbled with it every couple of years using Chessmaster. Gameknot has piqued my interested in it again.
Chess champ Bobby Fischer died at age 64 yesterday, Jan. 17, 2007. He was a nut in his later years, but he’s considered one of the best chess players ever. His greatest legacy is probably his influence on chess for young players, inspiring generations to learn chess at an early age, like me.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy (9/10)
Yes, this is an Oprah pick, but I read that it had a science-fiction element to it, and it was cheap (at Costco). It’s a depressing novel about a father and son wandering America after civilization has been destroyed. It’s violent, touching, and memorable. The author doesn’t follow the rules of grammar for the most part, helping to set the somber tone and chaos that the characters live in. I recommend it as a horror story – not something to read to the kids at bedtime, although there’s some tenderness there, too.
Lullabies For Little Criminals by Heather O’Neill (7/10)
This won the 2007 CBC Radio Canada Reads contest, which means little since the books are selected from five Canadian celebrities; however, the books they pick from ARE often good, including this one. It’s about a 13 year old girl growing up in a city with a dad who’s a drug addict. The story isn’t as depressing as The Road (above), but it’s close. The girl is smart, having quirks and observations that make her see happiness in awful situations. It’s an interesting portrayal of poverty and street life in a big city, with some hope in the end that things can work out well. Nicely written with lots of well-phrased passages. I would recommend it if you don’t mind reading about the gritty life of prostitution, poverty, and addicts.
The Kings of New York: A Year Among the Geeks, Oddballs, and Genuises Who Make Up America’s Top High School Chess Team by Micheal Weinreb (7/10)
I think this non-fiction has a selective audience: those who participated in chess tournaments and were in a school chess club, which is why it piqued my interest (my Dad gave it to me). This is a well-written account of people who live chess and who just play the game as a hobby in school. You get to know the players. It chronicles a year of a famous high school chess club based in New York city; how the school recruits top players; who the players are outside of chess and why they play; and the unique world of chess tournaments. Recommended only if you were in a school chess club.