Of Music And Chess

January 17, 2008

Well, another hiatus. Well, another year. Welcome to 2008. Thanks for stickin’ by.

Those of you who have not played a lot of chess might find it hard to see a natural connection between chess, and music. No matter, I think there is one. Music has the ability to transport your mind to another universe, to a world where other laws and values rule. To a world where you can find peace. Chess, sometimes does the same.

I may have blogged about this before, but when it comes to music I can warmly recommend one specific source: Radio Paradise, is a web-radio station that I cannot help fall in love with. They describe themselves as an “eclectic rock music station”. You may say that you are not “really into rock”. But these guys will play an amazingly broad selection of music. You may hear anything from the Beatles to the Chemical Brothers. If you love David Bowie, Calexico, Jethro Tull, Aimee Mann, Roxy Music, Björk, Beck, REM, Tom Petty, Tori Amos, Goldfrapp, and such, you should check it out. Or if you just like to be musically surprised, to hear a lot of new bands that you never heard of, you should click that link. The cool thing is not only that they play very cool music but if you listen for a couple of hours you begin to notice that they mix it in a really cool way that adds up to more than just the separate songs. Now the really great thing is that it is 100% commercial free. It is all working through voluntary listener support. Try it!

As for chess: a year ago I wrote that my goal for 2007 was to improve my rating by 200 rating points. 200 rating points, is a tall order, approximately you would win 4 out of 5 games against someone 200 points below yourself. So it is a significant improvement. Now, one year later the result is [drum roll please]:

230 rating points. Of course I am happy with that. For this year I hesitate to set a new goal because another 200 rating points is quite unrealistic. Anyway, the interesting thing is that my improvement did not chiefly come from intense study or training. Most of it came from a psychological shift, in my attitude towards the game. I have grown more, confident, careful, less risk prone, and most of all, more patient and persistent.

That might be a good lesson, for all of us, in all areas of life. Trust your decisions, stay patient, and do persist.


Marathon Dreams, again

May 29, 2007

With less than two weeks away, my preparations for the Stockholm Marathon are getting into their final stage. Last year I really wanted to do the New York Marathon, but I didn’t win the lottery to get into it (as it is hugely popular). But in Stockholm I got in and unless something really dramatic happens, well off I go!

OK, I did make it but in the scorching dry 28 centigrades it was no walk in the park. I crossed the finish line more than an hour behind my planned schedule. 520 kms of tarmac behind my runners this year did not matter. The heat got to me, I had the cramps and whatnot. But I did finish the bloody thing.

The Red Surface

May 29, 2007

Few people expected it. But in hindsight it seems like it was only a matter of time. Fact is, now it has happened.

The match in the post below was just a stunt of sorts, but in the final of the ATP tournament in Hamburg Roger Federer managed to beat his archrival Rafael Nadal, fair and square on Nadal’s favorite surface: clay. Afterwards Nadal said:”If I have to lose against anyone, then he is the man, I am not sad to lose to the best in the world.”

With such a boost to Fed’s self confidence the outcome of the French Open is more uncertain than ever. There is very little doubt in my mind that we will see these two in the final. But who will win? Now there’s a good question!

What Will They Think of Next?

April 29, 2007

If you are into tennis the tiniest bit, you know that the uncrowned king of clay-court tennis is Rafael Nadal. He has got amazing string of 72 consecutive clay court victories. And you will also know that Roger Federer, Fed Express to his fans, is the world’s top seed. He has got ten Grand Slam titles under his belt, and 48 grass victories.

Every time they meet they play great games but Nadal always wins on clay, whilst Federer usually wins on anything else, and always on grass. The latest brainstorm of tennis promoters is to create a tennis court with both surfaces, exclusively for a one-off match between the two! They call it “The Battle of the Surfaces“.

Imagine that! The game takes of this Wednesday, April the 2nd . The King of Clay vs. The king of all other surfaces! And it takes place in Nadal’s home town of Majorca. Who will win? Methinks Fed has a slightly better chance, from a pure tennis point of view, but let us not forget that this is an exhibition match without the established “gotta win”-attitudes of regular tournament play attached to it. I am sure that the home crowd will do everything they can to fire Nadal up! And both players are tremendous fighters when they put their mind to it. The online bookies seem to hold Feder slightly in favour, so does the voting on the match site

We are both looking forward to this absolutely new event. The idea really appeals to me as we both dominate one of the surfaces. Rafa holds the record of 62 victories in series on clay and I have not been defeated on grass since 48 matches. It’ll be fun to find out what it’s like to play on a court with mixed surfaces! And it ought to be interesting to see who chooses the better tactic. People have been talking about this event for quite a while. Now it’s coming up pretty soon already and I like the fact that the stadium – which is very nice, by the way – is located on Majorca, Rafa’s home. He has been to Basel, after all, and now I’ve got the opportunity to play at his place for once.

Roger Federer

Nadal wins! 7-5 4-6 7-6 (12-10)

So, I guess I was wrong 🙂

Sahara Run

March 2, 2007

Well my friends, the rumours of my untimely death have been exaggerated. Two legs, two arms, and my head, still in place.

I thought that I was done with the Sahara, blogwise but no, not yet. This story is so good that I must share it with you. I wrote that the Dakar was a tough challenge. Well, compared to this the Dakar is a walk in the park.

Three top athletes ran 6437 km from coast to coast in the Sahara. It took them 100 days. That corresponds to more than two marathons a day. I’m not kiddin, two marathons a day! And marathons are sort of tough, even under the “luxurious” conditions of paved roads and a nice climate. Really really impressing…

Check story on National Geographic and Yahoo.