Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Not backing down

  I previously wrote about my posting to Bob Long’s blog about his description of the rating of one of the personalities attending his October’s chess clinic, Andres Hortilossa, (“his rating was 2199 last I looked”) and the misleading response Bob posted. I had previously written a review about Hortillosa’s book “Improve Your Chess at Any Age”, which served a collections of the author’s games and outlines his chess improvement system.

  It seems as if I have opened a hornet’s nest. 2 weekends ago, the author responded in a blog posting referring to my opinions as a ‘big lie’ and ‘factual accusations’. And this past weekend, I was sent a copy of 4-page article printed in Long’s ‘Chess Reports’ magazine where he and Hortillosa refer to me as an ‘idiot’ and ‘sophomoric’ [Clarification: Long referred to me as an 'idiot', Hortillosa as using 'sophomoric logic'], among quite a few other insulting phrases. The language in the private forum was a lot less civil than in the blog postings, but I don’t think I was meant to see this one, as it is a subscriber-only magazine that is part instruction and part advertisement for Bob’s other chess-related entrepreneurial endeavors.

  I like to have a good humor about things and don't care for all the vitriol from Bob and Hortilossa. I offered my opinions and generally had a favorable review of the book. I'm rather offended at taking a private beatdown in a subscriber only magazine without having the opportunity to respond, but since I have my own 'media' outlet as the Tom Petty song goes, I can stand my ground and not back down.

  Hortillosa seems upset with my opinion that his jump from an unrated international player to one rated 2199 was the result of an exceptional performance in his first internationally rated tournament (most US tournaments are not internationally rated due to the high cost and extra regulations), since his national rating (that was established over 20 years and 900+ games) was never 2199 and his international rating has been in free-fall over the past 2 years (losing 200+ points in less than 2 years). In his post he points out that his initial international rating was indeed 2199 and asks if I am just ignorant of that fact or am just promulgating a ‘big lie’, treating my mentioning that his national rating was never 2199 as a denial of his initial international rating.

  He also doesn’t seem to like my conclusion of his rating downslide as showing his system “could not improve his chess at his current age”. He notes that when he follows his system he has good results, but when he doesn’t follow his system, he plays like ‘his critics’ (that would be me, I assume). I’ll give him a tie in the ‘sarcastic remark’ contest although I do like my play on the book title better. An improvement system (chess or otherwise) doesn’t give me a lot of confidence when the inventor and primary example of the system can’t follow it consistently. If he can’t follow his own system, what hope do I have of following it and more importantly, why should I even bother? In an entire universe of chess improvement systems, I’m going to pick one that the originator can’t follow? For me to sign on to a system, I’d like to see a sustained improvement from its leading advocate, not being Cinderella for a tournament or two and then having the horse and carraige turning back into mice and a pumpkin at midnight. I’ll pass on playing Charley in a real life version of ‘Flowers for Algernon’.

  I could relate when Hortillosa compared his system to a weight loss program that I shouldn’t dismiss because he has put his weight back on. He says “Hank, ignore my own ’weight’ issues. See if you can really use my prescriptive ‘diet plan’ because you might be a better practitioner of the plan than I could ever become.” I don’t think Hortillosa is aware of my having been recently labeled as obese at my work’s health screening, so I won’t accuse him of being weight-intolerant, but I did get to think who would I want to help me lose weight if I was really serious about it? I came up with 4 choices. Who would you pick?

Yes, I picked #2 also. There’s a reason the TV show on NBC isn’t called ‘Losing it with the guy sleeping on a lazy boy' or ‘Losing it with the guy who can drink his furniture’. I went to the Target today and looked through all the weight loss books and workout videos. None of the people on the covers of the books and DVD’s looked like a guy that would need the New York Fire Department to come over with ropes and ladders to help him get out of his apartment building when he fell down, like this fellow
(You can read about it here).

  Mind you, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being so obese that you need the fire department to help you out of your apartment building when you fall down. I'm merely saying that I’d go elsewhere for my dieting advice, thank you. But, maybe I can get in touch with him to see if he has a chess improvement program…

  (How's that for sophomoric?)