Sunday, February 1, 2009

Class of 1980 Reunion

Now for something completely different, the Saint Laurence School multiple-year class reunion.

I promised to photograph all of my classmates and post them online. Several people who have FaceBook and MySpace pages wanted to add them to their own collections. Be my guest, and feel free to copy these images.

For those who were unaware, Cheri Oteri was not there, despite one of the O'Neil sisters (who shall remain nameless) faking her "sign in" on the sheet in the downstairs cafeteria. Later somebody wrote "NOT" next to her name.

As for my class of 1980, some of your photos came out dark or blurry. Lori Albertus, sorry, you were one of them. Katie Higgins, the one of "just you" came out blurry thanks to Jackie Rush teetering into me at Busty's Tavern at about 1:30 AM (the "after party" party.) Sue Hinchey, your photo looked OK in the viewfinder but something happened when I transferred it to my computer. I'll try again later on. I think I got the rest of you.

Marion DiCroce, how could you possibly stay home? Your sister Michelle made the trip, you should have too!

Anyway, here are the debauched photos, with pulitzer prize-winning captions and commentary.


Patricia Giannantonio, left, and Lisa Tuterice, right. We walked to school together for 8 years. Patricia also has the dubious honor of being the first girl to have ever kissed me, planting one on me in the 3rd grade right in the middle of Ivy Court. Of course, at the time, my friend Brian Purcell told me I was now "contaminated", and he ran away from me like I had the plague.

Patty Lynne, "Tricia" Giannantonio, and Marybeth Crosby. Patty Lynne was the "bad girl cheerleader" that all of the football players drooled over. Marybeth was always quite as could be, as best I could remember, but she was lively and entertaining at the reunion

Ed Trice and Patty Lynne. It had to be over 100 degrees in the lower church with the crowd of hundreds of people in there, and so many people dancing to steam up the place even more. You'd never know it was cold enough to freeze a dog to a fire hydrant outside!

Me and Patricia Cunningham. There's a lot of "Patty's" in our group, and there's another one coming next too. I had to remind Patricia of some things I never forgot in the 4th grade class of Mrs. Mullin. Of course, she pretended not to remember them, but I know she was faking the amnesia.

And yet another Patty, if you can believe it, Patty Strahan and I. We weren't in a lot of classes together but we were probably in 4 homerooms from what we were able to determine as we recalled our former teachers.

Kurt Rechenberg with Patty Strahan and I. You're not seeing red either, that's just the way God made them. I reminded Kurt than in 1979 he bet me $1 that Denver was going to beat Dallas in the Superbowl, and I welched on the bet for about 13 years. I can still remember Kurt saying "You think Dallas will beat the Orange Crush? No way!" I had no idea that was the nickname of the Broncos at the time, all I knew was I wore this Dallas Cowboys jacket and I thought it was cool. Kurt was obviously better informed! When I finally saw him at a bar in the Barclay Square shopping center in 1992, I paid up. Of course, $1 was all the money in the world when you don't have a job and are in the 7th grade. Thankfully, Kurt let me go on the interest.

Even in a crowd of several hundred people, with a random "over the head" shot of the camera, it's almost impossible to avoid the immense Matt Kirlin )with his hand raised). In a later photo you will see scientific proof that Matt has his own gravitational field. In the foreground, a bewildered Billy DePrince looks in the general direction of Peter Quinn.

I did not meet George Williams until 1981 at Bonner High School when he was the coach of the Freshman 8-oared shell and the Novice-8. George was always a very intense coach and most of us thought he inflicted painful practices upon us as some form of retribution. The truth of the matter was we were out of shape, and of course we should have been able to run 5 miles in 30 minutes or better before rowing from the boathouse to the Strawberry Mansion bridge and back 3 times (15 miles) each day, 5 days a week. George is a very nice guy, one of the friendliest people I have ever met, and it was great to see him again. George, we need to get the Helen Williams II for the crew team.

Katie Higgins, Peter Quinn, and Billy DePrince. Don't let that impish grin fool you, Pete Quinn was one of the "tough guys" in the crowd. In fact, it is possible that the Quinn brothers beat up more people by the 8th grade than all the cowboys who've been cracked over the head with whiskey bottles in all of the John Wayne movies ever made. Katie, of course, is the twin of Maureen, who was notably absent. You'll see more of Katie later, in the "Busty's Tavern" after party party. I actually ran into Maureen in a very unlikely location in 1988, aboard the USS Shenandoah when it was docked in Norfolk. I was an electrical engineering contractor for NAVSSES at the time, and all of my workmates laughed when I drew this assignment for one of their weapons elevator overhauls. You see, the Shenandoah was "on course" to become the first all-female ship in the US Navy, and when I went aboard they had about 90% of their crew pretty much established! Not what I expected at all. And for those in the class of 1980 wondering who Billy is, he's the older brother of "Mooch", Jimmy DePrince, who is in our class. Billy had a wicked fastball when he pitched for the Yankees. The HPKAA Yankees, of course.

A group photo taken by Jimmy Kettler after we "fired" Bill Kettler for getting such a nice shot of the mostly-empty table. Front, from left to right: Ed Trice, Thomas Maloney, and Bill "I know how to work a digital camera" Kettler. Second row, left to right: Ann McGillian, Katie Higgins, Kim Clark, and Kathy McGeehan. Kathy was nice enough to set me up with my first St. Laurence girlfriend, Debbie Rankin, way back in the 6th grade. Standing, in back: Joe Manion, Jackie Rush, "Mumpy" from Saint Andrews, Steven Toohey with his eyes closed, and some unknown person sneaking into the photo.

And before he protests his innocence too much, this is the amazing photo taken by the digital photographic genius, Bill Ketler.

Given a chance to redeem himself, Mr. Kettler makes nice work of this one with me, Kathy McGeehan, and Ann McGillian.

With Joe Manion on the left, and Steven Mercanti. Joe later became a track star at Bonner High School, and as far as I can remember, Steve was the first friend I ever made outside of the Ivy Court gang that I grew up with. He sat next to me in Miss Flannigan's first grade class. Back then, he told me his "real name" was "Ephen", and he was really from Mars. He asked me not to divulge his secret, about his name and his origin. I promised I wouldn't, but I am guessing that after 37 years other people have learned this about him already.

This cutie is Kim Clark. Doesn't she have the greatest smile? I don't remember the last time I saw Kim. I don't think I saw her at all in high school or college. She pretty much looks the same, just a lil older, and I bet everyone knew who she was right away.

Hey how did this get here?

The reunion was taking place in two separate rooms, the former "downstairs church" and the cafeteria. You had to climb a vertical horseshoe to get back and forth, up one set of stairs from the lower church (more than ocasionally crowded), then through the vestibule (always crowded), then down the winding staircase designed for the gradeschool munchkins to get into the cafeteria. So as some of us were in transit we missed one another quite a bit. I only ran into Kathy McBride twice all evening, some will say to her good fortune.

This is what would have to be called the "before" picture, with Katie Higgins. This is before anyone had a drink at Busty's Tavern. Right before, in fact.

Since the good Lord knows 5 hours of drinking is not enough, we had to go to Busty's Tavern after the reunion was over. With me here is Margaret Flagherty (left) and Christine Lynch (right). I didn't run into either of them until the reunion was almost over. I was telling Christine that I remembered watching her in penmanship class write with both hands. I had no idea there was a such thing as being ambidextrous back in the 6th grade, and I thought this was some kind of trick. I could hardly hold a pencil in my left hand, and Christine could write with both hands at once. I would give my right arm to be ambidextrous!

Christine Lynch, Katie Higgins, and Margaret Flagherty, at Busty's Tavern.

What a rush! The 3 Rush sisters: Sheila, Flo, and Jackie. Jackie would soon have a new nickname ---- tilt.

Katie Higgins trying to get her point across to Bill Ketler, while Bill looks one part dazed and two parts confused.

One can only wonder what Kurt is talking about as Jackie Rush gets her groove on as sister Sheila tries to turn away from the camera just a moment too late.

A pair of "Retches", Paul Retchenberg with brother Kurt. I think Kurt has spotted me.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Is there really a mate in 9 ?

Ed Trice claims at his page: , that there would be a mate in 9 moves to be found by his Vortex in the shown position. But is this really true?

P.S.: of course, that old SMIRF version has no more chance there to avoid a defeat. Vortex detects the correct key move. But it would be nice to see how the 9 move mate should look like.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

A Perfect Chancellor's Vortex

If you go to this link you can replay a recent great game between Twirling_Fern and GothicInventor.

It was also Game 2580 on the live site, but errors with the interface caused quite a few problems for Black. Unable to move his queen as early as move 12, GothicInventor had to resort to mobilizing as many pieces as possible towards the opposing king in order to create attacking chances.

The result: a game winning Chancellor's Vortex that is well worth replaying. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Vortex vs. Joker80, a Wild Game!

Last night Gothic Vortex played an hour-long game against H.G. Muller's Joker80 program. I must say, this was the most unusual game of Gothic Chess I have ever seen! Shown above is the position after 16. Ae3!? to this game:

Vortex vs. Joker80

I will annotate this game later, but feel free to comment on it here.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Mate in 270

People have recently asked the question: "How much stronger is Gothic Vortex Nucelar V than Gothic Vortex Gold IV?"

The diagram above should help answer that question.

Vortex V has the 5-piece Gothic Chess tablebases. These tablebases are probed in RAM as the program searches, they are not just used when you enter into a 5-piece position.

Therefore, Vortex can see that the trades from this position shown above will force black into a pawn-down ending of Queen and Pawn vs. Queen where the side to move (white) will have a mate in 268 moves. The key to the win is 2. Cxh7! and it is the only move to win.

Vortex can announce this win after only 1 second of search (even though the screen shot shows 6 seconds... I didn't capture the first mate announcement quickly enough).

You can imagine there are countless cases as the endgame approaches that the over 300 billion positions can provide a deep insight that will affect the play at the root of the game tree. This makes Vortex play endgames the way God would play them: perfectly, delivering checkmate as quickly as possible, and never making a mistake!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

New Gothic Chess Playing Site

Thursday, February 7, 2008, at 12 noon Eastern, the new place to play Gothic Chess will be at

I just logged on to test the site and took some screen shots, as shown above, so I know it is working. Spread the word, invite your friends, and let's have a big showing this coming Thursday!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Death of Bobby Fischer - A New Mystery!

Bobby Fischer's final bizarre act

From U.K. source, the Telegraph

The American chess prodigy's eccentricities didn't end with his death. As Neil Tweedie discovered in Reykjavik this week, the reclusive genius had arranged his own secret 'guerrilla' burial. Now its legality is being questioned

The grave was dug in secret as darkness descended over the white frozen landscape around the village of Hraungerdi, ready for Bobby Fischer's last getaway. Not even the minister whose churchyard it was knew of the funeral planned for the following morning.

Marriage mate: Miyoko Watai
Only five people attended the brief service early on Monday, conducted in the half-light before the short Icelandic day had properly begun. Among them was Gardar Sverrisson, Fischer's closest friend of the last few years and the man who had organised the digging of the grave without seeking the permission of Iceland's Lutheran Church or of the state authorities.

Sverrisson had also secured the services of a Roman Catholic priest from Reykjavik, some 30 miles to the west. Fischer was not a Catholic but must have been content with the arrangement - Sverrisson would have followed the American's instructions to the letter. The fifth mourner may or may not have been Fischer's wife, a Japanese woman named Miyoko Watai.

So much about Bobby Fischer was a mystery. He liked it that way, keeping people guessing. No way would the fallen angel of world chess have allowed the media a feeding frenzy. Hence the unauthorised "guerrilla" funeral uncovered by the Telegraph this week; a strange secret end to a strange secret life.

Bobby Fischer was 64 when he died last week of kidney failure - one year on earth for each square on a chessboard. Arguably the greatest chess player ever, he ended his life as a recluse, obsessed about his privacy, trusting in virtually no one. Subject to bouts of paranoia, he was vehemently anti-Semitic and convinced the CIA was out to get him. But he was also capable of kindness, gentleness and humour, and commanded loyalty among those who knew him.

He was an exile, too, a fugitive sought by the US government (he had broken sanctions against playing chess in Milosevic's Yugoslavia) but protected by the tiny country that had offered him a passport and a haven. His death made headlines around the world. There was much that Fischer kept to himself: his marriage, if marriage it was, and his daughter, a little girl living far away in the Philippines who may inherit all or part of his still considerable fortune.

The manner of his burial is now the subject of controversy in Iceland, an intimate society of just 300,000 people. Some of Fischer's friends believe the burial is unlawful. If Miss Watai was not his wife, they argue, then she and Sverrisson had no right to carry out the burial without seeking the permission of his estate's legal representatives. There is the additional matter of money: Fischer's Swiss bank account is thought to have held about £1.5 million, and there may be more in gold deposits.

Kristinn Fridfinnson is the Lutheran minister in Hraungerdi. He first knew that Fischer had become a permanent resident of his graveyard through the local media.

"I didn't believe it at first," he says, standing in the still cold air of the small church. "No one had asked my permission. It was a great surprise. Maybe it was a mistake to bring him here, so far from where he lived, but we are honoured to have him here now. The great Bobby Fischer."

Most of Fischer's public life is well documented, but his final years in Iceland are less well-known. Icelanders pride themselves on not being seduced by celebrity, preferring to leave famous visitors in peace. Fischer arrived in March 2005 and found a haven in Reykjavik, where he was supported by a small circle of friends. Some have broken their silence for the first time to talk of Fischer.

"Bobby could be such fun," said Einar Einarsson, one of those who helped get him into Iceland. "I remember him singing My Way as I drove him in the car. He could be gentle and kind, particularly to children. In many ways he was a quite normal person. But there was always that dark side - he believed that dark forces were out to get him."

Was he mad?

''I think that he was an angry man rather than a mad man."

Mr Einarsson was upset by his exclusion from Fischer's funeral and is concerned about its legality.

Saemi Palsson was another close friend. Fischer's police bodyguard during the Spassky match in 1972, he remained in contact with the chess player and was central to securing his release from custody in Japan, after he was arrested by immigration officials. He retains a great affection for the maverick American but admits to being disturbed by some of his more unpalatable views.

"Bobby was a genius, he could have been a great doctor, scientist - anything. But he was not emotionally intelligent - he didn't know how to behave with people. He did not trust many people. He did not trust doctors and that is why he did not want treatment for his condition."

Fischer's life in Reykjavik was a simple one. He was to be seen in the coffee shops and book stores of the Icelandic capital's bohemian quarter, reading and avoiding eye contact. In particular, he frequented the Bokin bookshop, which he would visit twice a week, occupying for hours a chair set aside especially for him in the corner. He devoured everything from history to biography, and was also fond of reading Dennis the Menace comic books imported for him from the US. People asking for autographs were greeted with stern silence.

Fischer's need for privacy was all consuming. Often he would arrive late at a restaurant so as to avoid unwelcome attention. But he was also to be spotted dining with friends, enjoying jokes.

His mercurial streak never left him, though. Friends fell in and out of favour depending on whim. Speaking to the media was a capital offence requiring immediate exclusion from his circle. And there was always potential for the explosive, irrational rant.

Miss Watai was based in Japan but visited Iceland frequently, especially as Fischer's health began to fail, doing his laundry and tending to him at his apartment in the capital. Some in the Fischer circle refer to Miss Watai merely as a "friend" of Fischer. The Japanese embassy in Reykjavik encouraged speculation about the couple's marital status this week when a spokesman questioned the validity of their civil wedding ceremony in Japan, alleging it may have been unlawful because of Fischer's lack of a valid passport at that time.

But another friend of Fischer came to Miss Watai's defence. She told the Telegraph: "There is simply no question that Miyoko was the closest person to Bobby and by far the most special person in his life. She is a woman of absolute integrity who will undoubtedly ensure his daughter is taken care of, should she inherit his estate. She met Bobby in the 1970s and there was probably a relationship from that time. She was passionate about him and is devastated by his death. She promised never to betray his confidences and she will observe that promise."

Robert James Fischer was a phenomenon. There has probably never been a more talented chess player. US junior champion at 13 and a grandmaster at 15, his winning streak of 21 games at top level will probably never be equalled. When so many players aimed for the draw, he went for the throat. He didn't beat opponents, he annihilated them.

Good-looking in his youth, and with a taste for sharp suits, he was saleable in a way that other chess players could only dream of, commanding multimillion-dollar offers in exchange for appearances. But he was mercurial and prone to anger.

It was in Iceland in 1972 that he attained worldwide notoriety, playing in the world championship against Boris Spassky. The match was a metaphor for the Cold War: American kid versus the might of the Soviet chess machine.

It would be 20 years before he played again. In the meantime, he descended into a kind of madness, donating money to a pseudo-religion promising Christ's return in 1975 and developing a loathing for Jews. That his mother Regina was Jewish mattered not. Fischer may even have had a Jewish father, a Hungarian scientist who had an affair with his mother. His legally recognised father, a German-born scientist, left home when his only son was two.

In 1992, a multimillion-dollar pot lured him back into the limelight, again against Spassky in a tournament in Milosevic's Yugoslavia, then the subject of US sanctions. From then on he was an exile, circling the globe. While in the Philippines he met a young woman called Justine. In 2000 she gave birth to a daughter, who could now inherit his estate.

Fischer took to the radio to denounce the US and Israel. The rant celebrating 9/11 was the last straw. In 2003 the US retaliated by revoking his passport. In 2004 Fischer was arrested at Tokyo airport and detained for eight months. It was then that he is said to have married Miyoko, president of the Japanese chess federation. Shortly after, Iceland granted him citizenship and he was released.

Lilja Gretarsdottir, president of the Icelandic chess federation, explains: "Icelanders have always had a soft spot for outlaws. It goes back to the sagas.

"Fischer was exiled from America but he was always an American - in his manner, everything. I think he must have found it hard to know that he could not return to his country."

In the churchyard at Hraungerdi yesterday, the red and white roses on Bobby Fischer's grave appeared as fresh as the day they were laid down upon it, frozen by the cutting Arctic wind. Driving snow obscured the last resting place of the most celebrated exponent of the art of chess.

The press didn't get their feeding frenzy. To the end, Bobby Fischer did it His Way.