06 October 2012

Practicing Visualization

During a social time at a professional retreat for my spouse, I found a surprising opportunity to practice board vision and visualization skills. Her group met all afternoon yesterday, and they are meeting all day today. Their work is interesting and engaging, but it differs from mine. I came along to enjoy Eden Valley Guest Ranch (outside Oroville, Washington), and to care for our puppies.

View from our cabin at Eden Valley Guest Ranch
While the planners (that's their profession) work, I enjoy the woods, the views, and the solitude of the cabin. I brought along a chess set and my copy of John Donaldson and Nikolay Minev, Akiba Rubinstein: Uncrowned King (1994). Although the book is old, it is new to me. It arrived in the mail earlier this week. As I read the biographical portions of the book, I play through selected games on the chess board.

One of the games that caught my interest yesterday afternoon was a miniature from the Barman Chess Congress, August 1905. Donaldson and Minev explain that the Hauptturnier was for those who aspired to the rank of master:
Rubinstein made his international debut at the Barmen Chess Congress in August of 1905. Playing in the Hauptturnier, which was comprised of aspiring masters, Akiba turned in an excellent result, scoring 12 points from 15 games to tie for first with Oldrich Duras. (20)
Rubinstein had White against Ernst Heilmann in the second round. Heilmann finished the event in seventh place with 9.5.

Rubinstein,Akiba -- Heilmann,Ernst [D40]
Hauptturnier-A Barmen (2), 1905

1.d4 d5 2.Nf3 e6 3.c4 c5 4.e3 Nf6 5.Nc3 Nc6 6.a3 b6? 7.cxd5 exd5

In the notes, the authors present a few moves from a game that Minev played in 1956. Minev's opponent played 7...Nxd5 and White won a pawn. That game ended drawn, although that bit of information is not in this book.

8.Bb5 Qd6 9.e4! Bd7

10.e5 Qe7 11.0–0 Ng8 12.Nxd5 Qd8 13.Qa4 Rc8 14.Bg5 Nge7 15.dxc5 bxc5 16.Rad1 a6 17.Qxa6 Nd4 18.Nxd4 cxd4 19.Rxd4 1–0

After spending a bit of time studying Heilmann's errors in this brief game, and looking through a few others in the text, my wife's afternoon session ended. Spouses and others accompanying the retreat participants were invited to dinner and the social time before and after. My wife and I spent half an hour playing with the puppies, then we put them in their kennels with food, water, and toys. We headed back down the hill to the conference center with a few bottles of wine. Others in the group brought some local beer. I opened a couple of our bottles of wine, sampled the beer, and fell into some conversations. A few of the planners whom I was standing with started talking about their afternoon's workshops. Nothing surprising there, but it left me on the margins of the conversation.

It would have been rude to force a change of topic so that I could participate. Instead, I stood quietly, smiling and nodding, keeping others comfortable with my presence. Meanwhile, my mind was back at the table in our cabin. I was playing through Rubinstein -- Heilmann in my head.

In my mental analysis, I made it as far at the diagram in the game score above when I was addressed directly by one of the retreat participants. She showed me some cards the group had worked with earlier that day. The cards were color-coded lists of behavior patterns, mental orientations, personality traits. I matched pretty well with the list on the green card.

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