Saturday, March 29, 2014

Earth Hour

Today at 8.30 pm people, corporations, cities, even whole countries can turn their lights off and cut their energy usage, donate to the cause and generally raise their awareness of the environmental issues facing our planet by joining Earth Hour. There are many issues such as sea pollution, air pollution, deforestation, overusage of natural resources, and the destruction of natural habitats. It is definitely time to do something and even if that is just one small thing that each of us does, then those small things will mount to make a difference.

I joined in with the power off for Earth Hour tonight, and I intend to take a keener interest in environmental issues in the future and even to become more active in energy conservation. I guess my recent visit to Hong Kong and it's heavily polluted atmosphere brought home how important it is for us to take care of the environment.

My small part tonight involved me turning off the lights and most of the electrical appliances in my house, and sitting with a candle with nothing but a chessboard and a pencil and paper for company. I'd actually googled the words 'chess' and 'environmentalist' and I found an excellent blog post on American chess patron, Maurice Wertheim. Wertheim was a rich man who had an appreciation of the arts, chess and environmental issues. For instance, he bought some land on Long Island as a refuge for natural wildlife conservation. This land he eventually donated to the US Government, and it has now become the Wertheim National Wildlife Refuge.

The only chess game I found played by Maurice Wertheim was on the above mentioned blog, but I guess American Chess Journals of the past may have some more. There was a strong memorial tournament held for him in 1951, won by Sammuel Reshevsky ahead of Najdorf and ex World Champion, Euwe. This would have been sweet for Reshevsky who could count Wertheim as a patron. I'll have a look at some of these games over the next few weeks.

Candlelit chess analysis for Earth Hour

Anyway, in the game Marchand-Wertheim that was cited on the blog, there was one position that interested me.

In this position which had come from a weird French, white played 9.d3. I wanted to know what happened after 9.c4 which I felt was a better try (actually, Stockfish seems to agree with my judgement there, which is pretty pleasing). I gues the capture en passant must be examined first.

- 9..dxc3 e.p. 10.Nxc3 Qd8 [Going forward looks bad: 10..Qb3 11.Rb1 Qc2 12.Qc4 threatening both the bishop on c5, and to play Bd3 next move winning white's queen] 11.Ne4 when black will be hard pushed to defend d6.

 - 9..d3 is not good as white has 10.Qxd3 [10.cxd5 dxe2 11.Bxe2 Nxd5 looks good for black] 10..Qxd3 11.Bxd3 and it seems to me that white is a pawn up for not enough here.

So it looks as if black has to retreat the queen.

- 9..Qd8 10.Ng5 [This was the move that I fastened on as the natural 10.d3 allows black to take advantage of the hole on e3 by 10..Nf5. I didn't really spend much time on this, so maybe white can do some stuff.] 10..Nf5 [I spent a while trying to make 10..d3 work, but I think it's a speculative pawn sac] 11.Ne4 Be7 which I thought was messy, but Stockfish thinks black is good.

Anyway, I spent a whole hour analysing positions on a chess board and really enjoyed it. It stretched me as I have spent much of the past couple of years working on a computer. I think I'll save energy, and make myself work a little harder by analysing with a chess board and without a computer like I used to do in the good old days. On the whole, I found Earth Hour inspiring in more ways than one this evening.

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