Thursday, May 29, 2008


sco·to·ma (skuh-toe-muh)
n. pl. sco·to·mas or sco·to·ma·ta (skuh-toe-muh-tuh)
1. An area of diminished vision within the visual field, surrounded by an area of less diminished or of normal vision.
2. See blind spot.

I was a big, if not religious, fan of the X-Files. I can’t say I saw every episode, but I sure saw a lot of them. The stories were fresh and it was always fun to see an appearance of Cigarette Smoking Man and imagine that one shadowy cabal tied all the greatest conspiracies together. My favorite episode was “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’”. I usually bust out laughing when I think of the kid saying, “I didn't spend all those years playing Dungeons and Dragons and not learn a little something about courage.” The directing that goes into filming different versions of the same scene based on the perceptions of different characters is tremendously amusing to me.

I work in a profession related to what Dana Scully’s character does, so it occasionally amused me to hear her mispronounce things. In an episode about El Chupacabra, Scully said “aspergillus” with a hard G sound like in bo-Gus, instead of the pronunciation I’m used to like the letter J, as in Gillian Anderson. Maybe it was an inside joke. In one episode entitled “Unrequited”, there was a Vietnam veteran who through some magic could vanish while you were looking directly at him in broad daylight. Scully explained the phenomenon using the phrase transient scotoma.

The last game of the Club Championship Qualifier was a mixed bag. I went into it thinking that I didn’t even really want to advance any more: partly due to fatigue, partly because matches in the finals just don’t appeal to me that much. I had White against Jerry Weikel, who has been state champion before, but due to life’s intrusions has limited his chess tournaments mostly to the club championship and an occasional big tournament. This was our tenth meeting with my score +3 –1 =5 in our previous nine games. This draw made it =6.

Afterward, I felt a peculiar mixture of elation at swindling a draw out of a lost position and disappointment that my tournament had ended with an overall failure of missing the cut and underperforming my rating. Against Class B: one win. Against Class A: one win and two draws. Against Experts: three losses.

Two learning points: I am annoyed to discover that I seem to have a blind spot for backward queen moves. One should always be careful of knights because they can turn the tide of battle with a vengeance.

Since the first step in developing expertise in any field is to apply or invent new vocabulary words that only you can understand, I’m going to start referring to scotomata in lieu of blunders and oversights.


drunknknite said...

Hmmm... tough game.

Did you see the x-files with the psychic kid who was a really good chess player? I just remember the very beginning he's playing chess and he moves out of the way of a bullet.

frenez said...

it seems like white is much better after your ne5. since all of black's pieces are on the queenside, why not a king side attack? instead of nxd7 and rxc8, what about f4 with the idea of following it up with nxd7 and g4 to push f5 and break it open? you may have to play h3, g4 to get in a timely f5 though. i'm just thinking outloud and it may be a bad idea ...

ChargingKing said...

I'm a bit of an X-Files fanatic. I have them all on DVD and am waiting with baited breath for the new movie.

Kevin oddly enough that kid wasn't supposed to be a good chess player. He beat a GM because he was a mind-reader and knew what he was going to do.

Anonymous said...

drunknknite - I remember that episode. Even if you could read a GM's mind perfectly clearly, it seems the best you should get is a draw. My thoughts would be such a jumble that there's no telling how the analysis ends up. When asked how Alekhine could find better moves than his opponent, he said, "I think up my own moves, and I make my opponent think up his."

frenez - You're right, of course. I knew that Ba3 wasn't so good and that to take advantage meant central or queenside attack. f4 into a Stonewall style attack seems just right. I was fixated on the c-file fight. Sometimes, I get too caught up closing down my opponent's game to remember that my agenda is sometimes more important. I've seen this often happen to players playing White against the King's Indian kingside attack. I was a bit afraid of the Black queen invasion with Qb2 (hence 18.Qd2), but it doesn't seem too much more active than Qa3.

ChargingKing - First Karate Kid and now X-Files. We coulda been couch potatoes together. Do you know my two favorite X-Files well? Jose Chung and Bad Blood. I didn't like the episodes after Duchovny left.

ChargingKing said...

LMAO "Bad Blood" is everyone's favorite! Come on man that's too easy : )

The best is seeing the contrasting view of the world given by Mulder and Scully respectively. (That actor from "Old school" plays a great hick cop)

Of the serious episodes my favorite would be the three part story arch of "Anasazi-The Blessing Way-Paperclip" This was the series at its highest point of interesting type A storylines.

ChargingKing said...

I have been disappointed not to be able to read any blogs from King Kong Hong....maybe you have been busy like me.