Monday, August 26, 2013

Monday Is My Day Off

I work on Saturdays so I have Monday off. Well, in fact I have half of Monday off, except when there is something that needs catching up on. Actually, I pretty much work 7 days a week. But then again, when you turn your hobby into your work, there will always be an element of work following you around. For instance, last night I was watching the tie break play offs for the FIDE World Cup of Chess, and part of me is enjoying the spectacle, part of me is following the action like any chess fan, and part of me is wondering whether there are any lessons from the games that I can show my students. Every game of chess I play, every puzzle I try to solve, every game I look at are instructive to me and potential lessons to my students. So I guess for me work and play are not that far apart.

Today is a magnificent spring day. The temperature has cranked up a few degrees, there is bright sunshine and blue skies bringing highlights to the burst of spring colour which is coming into bloom. If I was a betting man, I would say we've seen the last of winter now, and Australia is full steam ahead towards summer days. But luckily I'm not a betting man. My predictions for the World Cup Quarter Finals proved to be spectacularly wrong with a 100% failure. Let's see how it goes for the semi finals. Actually, I have to admit to being a little put out that one of my picks didn't win. Ok, Korobov played averagely against Kramnik who won the match even though he wasn't playing his absolute best. But the other 3, Kamsky, Svidler and Caruana had their chances but just seemed to implode. I guess that even the top players are feeling the pressure in this event. Let's remember that they have little experience of knock out tournaments, or even of matches and these 3 all had the added burden of being a favourite. So I'm going to pick Tomashevsky to beat Andreikin, and Kramnik to beat Vachier-Legrave. Please don't go running to the bookmakers with those tips, I really am a bad pundit!

There are 3 weeks or just 21 days before Caroline and I head off to America. Our good friends Nick and Zoe have just left for their holiday and had a plane cancelled throwing their holiday plans into disarray. Thankfully, they are back on track now and living it up in Las Vegas before heading off to Florida for a big family get together. I just want to say that although my body is here, my mind and spirit is already in the USA with you both! Caroline and I have been planning this road trip for many onths now, and hope to see some amazing things, such as Sequoia, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon. But it is also the little things that you experience along the way that can make these things memorable. The last US road trip we did was about 10 years ago, through New England in the fall. Yes, we saw the amazing colours of the maples as the seasons turned. We went to New York, Boston, Montreal, saw Mount Washington, Lake Placid and Woodstock etc. But our best experience was at the end of a long drive when we thought our luck had run out with finding a place to stay for the night. Then we arrived in the small town of Indian Lake. We managed to book into a motel, and across the road was a bar where we spent a great night chatting and making friends with people who we'd never met before and will have never seen again. Of all the amazing experiences we had, the wonderful things we saw and did, it will probably be the openness and friendliness of that night which will be the enduring memory of that trip for me.

While I love chess, Caroline loves photography. On this trip I will be the official holiday snap taker, while Caroline will take the amazingly good shots that it takes the eye of a photographer to see. I'm not sure what makes a photo so different. How can one picture merely depict a memory, while another of virtually the same thing can be seen a art? Well I can see it once they have been taken, my problem is seeing the difference before the camera is clicked. 

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