Forty Chess Games! · 22 September 2018

I did not mean to do so, but I am currently playing forty chess games at the same time. Forty!

I like to play chess, but nobody at my home really likes to play in person, so I play online at Usually three-day matches. That is, each player gets three days to make a move. I play regularly against a couple friends from work, which gives us more things to talk about than just work. And we have fun.

The nice thing about is that since we often do not have time or do not make time to actually go play chess, we can still play. Another nice thing is that you can play in tournaments. I played in my first two tournaments earlier in the year. I do not know that I won any games in those tournaments, but I did gain a regular playing partner. Who I finally beat in a tough contest after many many games.

I like to have a few games going all the time and I enjoyed my couple experiences in the round robin stages of the couple tournaments I had entered, so I decided to join another. I looked around the different tournaments that were going to start and figured I would join a few.

Which brings me to my latest discovery about And a warning.

Do NOT join five tournaments at the same time. (That is the warning.)

I did not mean to play in five tournaments at the same time. I just figured that joining them meant I would play in one and wait for the others to start. After all, I did not want to play too many games at the same time. I figured playing five or six three-day matches would be plenty. But all the tournaments started the day after I joined them.

The way it happened was innocent enough.

Tournaments on are ranked. That is players have numeric ranks based on how many times they win and against whom they win. If you beat a player with a high rank, your rank goes up more than if you beat a player with a low rank. The same thing goes for when you lose, but your rank goes down accord to whether your rank indicates you should win or lose (less if you should probably lose, more if you should probably win). You can choose tournaments where people are limited from entry by rank or in open tournaments where people of any rank can play. It is good to choose chess tournaments where people are ranked about the same as you. (Which is what I do. I choose tournaments where only people below a certain rank or between certain ranks are allowed to play.)

The other thing about tournaments is that they have a limit to the number of players who will be in the tournament. I suppose they also have a start date, but when I was looking for tournaments to join, I never saw one. Instead, I just looked for how many of the maximum number of people had already joined the tournament. That was my mistake. (And my discovery.)

When I was cruising the site for tournaments (I actually usually use a mobile app to play), I found a bunch that did not have nearly the number of players they were looking for. I would have been the one hundredth player out of five hundred (100/500) for instance. I figured it would take time to fill all the spots, so I joined the tournament since it fit my criteria (one to three days per move and I was around the middle of the ranking range). I joined a couple where I was almost the last player needed and I joined a few where they were still looking for a lot more people.

I was content to play my usual three to five or so games and wait for the tournaments to start. Little did I realize that those tournaments were not waiting until all the seats were filled. They all started the day after I signed up. Well, all but two did. The other two started the next two days. (It sounds more exciting and ominous if they all started the same day.) I was shocked and amazed when I got on my device and saw all those games. Forty! It was amazing. And disconcerting.

I am still in shock as I look at all those games. The unfortunate part is that they are all in the same stages too. We are playing in the opening stages of the games. Which makes things go fairly quickly, but I know my brain is going to misfire a bunch as the games go on. Still, it will be fun. Whether I win any games at all, I will have fun playing. And who knows? Maybe I will get another regular playing partner out of the deal.

One thing I do know. I will not join that many tournaments at the same time again. I will only join tournaments that I am ready to play right now. After all, I never really intended to play forty games at the same time. I still cannot believe it. Forty.

[The count actually reached forty-two. At the time of this writing, I have won eight tournament matches, but I am soon to lose a few.]

© 2018 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Loving Criticism · 15 September 2018

One of my friends coined a new term the other day. Loving Criticism. Mike said it was what he does with me when he mentions my writing in conversations or makes fun of me. I think it really means that he loves to criticize.

Actually, I do not think that Mike loves to criticize. He does like to tease though. So when he makes oblique comments about a blog post I just posted, I rarely understand that he is making fun of me or criticizing me or making oblique comments about my writing. I am just not that subtle. Or clever. Besides, I often forget exactly what I posted that day or that week.

Which brings me to the other side of loving criticism. The side that uses loving as a verb instead of an adjective.

Some people hate criticism. They think that it is putting them down. They think it is not appreciating them. Especially, their writing or photos or art. First of all, if people are going to be writers or artists (or anything else that might get criticism), they ought to develop thick skin. They need to understand that when you put stuff out there for people to read or see, some people are going to like it and some people are not. They need to understand that some people are going to rave about it, some people are going to criticize it, but most people will be silent about it. I hear the crickets many a time after I post my blog. (Unless one of my friends decides to give me an oblique or even overt comment about it.)

I doubt I would go so far as to say I love criticism, but I do like criticism. Praise is nice too, but criticism is better. Criticism is how I get better. It is the iron sharpening iron. For whether the criticism comes from somebody who knows anything or not, from friends or enemies, from sincerity or envy, it almost always has the potential for growth in it. And when it does not have that potential, you can just throw it away.

When people tell me that they are often hurt by criticism, I give them advice that I heard long ago. That is to catch criticism with your hands (preferably with a mitt) rather than with your heart. If you think of criticism as a pitch and yourself as the catcher, you can catch that criticism in your mitt. Then, you can examine it and see if it has any validity. If it does, keep it and learn from it. If not, throw it away and wait for the next pitch. Treating criticism that way is much easier on you than just putting all the criticism right into your heart. The sting on the hands is much easier to deal with than the sting on the heart.

Which brings me back to the loving criticism where “loving” is used as an adjective rather than a verb. (I hope you liked that subtle English lesson there.)

At least two of my friends and faithful readers like to give me comments about my writing. Often in the form of barbs or off-handed remarks. And I appreciate it. At least when I finally understand that they are making subtle comments about my writing. I love their loving criticism, whether it stings or not. Most of all I thank my friends for telling it like it is. And I thank Mike for coining the new term, Loving Criticism.

© 2018 Michael T. Miyoshi

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Taking Pictures · 8 September 2018

It has been quite the summer for pictures. And I had lots of fun taking pictures of the cars and boats at the La Conner Classic Boat and Car Show.

I am not the greatest photographer (or writer for that matter), but I like to take pictures (and write). Mostly, I take pictures of my family, but there are times when I just like to shoot the scenery. Sometimes I even like to get a little crazy and try different perspectives. Like getting the camera really low and shooting up at the subject. It was a lot of fun shooting pictures at different angles and different closeness at the car and boat show.

We do not necessarily do lots of traveling. Even locally. We tend to be homebodies for the most part. Part of that is probably because the kids are mostly grown, so we do not need to bundle up and trundle off to soccer games or other of their activities on weekends like we used to do. We enjoy just staying home, and well, just staying home.

But when we do travel, we like to do so on the heavy traffic days. You know, those days when everybody is off to someplace exciting. Like Seafair. Or the La Conner Classic Boat and Car Show.

At any rate, we got to La Conner and it seemed like everybody who was not in Seattle was in La Conner. I am sure the town tripled in size. But we found parking and walked around the town and had a great day.

And we saw lots of beautiful cars and boats.

The cars and boats were magnificent. They were classics. Beautiful wooden boats built long ago and maintained to be show quality by their owners. Marvelous cars tricked out and shining brightly in the sunlight. We talked to a few of the owners and found out a little about their vehicles. I even saw an old colleague, who was showing his Corvette and signing people up for a convoy trip next summer. It was fun thinking about the Munsters when I saw a Model T hot rod. I even had daydreams about being mechanically minded and fixing up a car. Mostly though, I just enjoyed seeing hunks of metal and wood that were not just vehicles but art. And I tried to capture just a little of that beauty with my camera.

I have had lots of fun taking pictures this summer. Of our family. Of our back yard. And it was a pleasure to take a few pictures of the masterpieces that they had at the La Conner Classic Boat and Car Show.

© 2018 Michael T. Miyoshi

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