This blog is about a wide range of topics, their common denominator being simply that I'm interested in them. My aim is to relieve my friends of my constant lecturing about such things as e.g. Chess, Football, Languages or Scandinavian Music ...

I appreciate readers' comments, no matter whether they are in English or German or any other language I'm finding myself able to understand.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mitä me juomme jouluaattona?

While I was getting my head kicked in at the Christmas blitz tournament of Fitschel's club, he suggested that I could also write some posts in Finnish (yet also give the translations, of course). This was most likely a reaction to my explanation that I'm writing in English here because I want to improve my writing skills.

His idea has some merit but I don't think I would be able to write in Finnish without causing native Finnish speakers' eyeballs to fall out. I surely could write correctly in an orthographic sense but I don't think that I have got enough experience with the Finnish colloquialisms to make reading worthwhile.

What I'm going to do instead is presenting a recipe for Glögi, i.e. the Finnish version of the infamous Glühwein that is keeping the lot of us alive while we are wandering across our favourite Christmas Market.

I got hold of this recipe 5 years ago when my Finnish teacher asked me to prepare Glögi for the Christmas dinner of our Finnish class at university. Since then I made a pot of Glögi for my family's Christmas dinner every year. So here we go:

Ainekset (1 1/2 litraa)
Ingredients (1 1/2 litres)

  • 1 pullo punaviiniä
    (1 bottle of red wine)
  • 2 dl kirkasta viinaa
    (2 dl of clear schnapps, i.e. Korn)
  • 1 kanelitanko
    (1 cinnamon stick)
  • 4 kokonaista neilikkaa
    (4 whole cloves)
  • 1 inkiväärinpala
    (1 piece of ginger)
  • 1 dl rusinoita
    (1 dl of raisins)
  • 1 dl kaltattuja manteleita
    (1 dl of roasted almonds)
  • sokeria
  • suikaloitua appelsiininkuorta
    (orange zest, i.e. grated orange paring)


Kaada viini ja viina kattilaan. Lisää kanelitanko, neilikat ja inkivääri. Kuumenna juoma varovasti kiehuvaksi (älä päästä kiehahtamaan). Lisää kattilaan rusinat ja mantelit ja makeuta glögi tarvittaessa sokerilla. Koristele glögi suikaloidulla appelsiininkuorella.

Put the wine and schnapps into a pot. Add the cinnamon stick, cloves and ginger. Bring the beverage to the boil carefully (don't keep on boiling). Add the raisins and almonds and sweeten the Glögi as you please. Decorate the Glögi with orange zest.

Cheers and Merry Christmas to all of you!

PS: I think I wanted to say "Kippis ja hyvää joulua kaikille!" (-:

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Freezing Frenzy

As temperatures in Germany fell to -20°C I spent my weekend in Bad Homburg, where I worked as an arbiter and chaperon at the Hessian Under-8 Youth Championship. Carrying my heavy rucksack as well as my guitar, I was lucky to reach the youth hostel, which is located at the bottom of a steep slope, just minutes before the heavy snowfall set in.

After preparing the playing hall, I made my way back to Frankfurt Friday evening in order to participate in my club's Christmas blitz tournament. This turned out to be a hell of a journey because it hadn't stopped snowing and the temperature had fallen even further. In the tournament I clinched second place behind Lather and won a nice chess book. Eventually I made it back to Bad Homburg without freezing to death on the walk from the train station to the youth hostel, which must be considered my most successful endeavour that evening.

Saturday and Sunday kept me occupied with my duties, which wasn't too complicated because children are usually able to settle disputes fairly on their own. All in all there were only two issues that took some care to handle.

The first was to explain to one child that the touch-move rule is indeed about having to move a piece once touched, no matter whether the other player complains before or after one touches another piece.

The second issue was a player who allegedly offered a draw and then didn't want to draw anymore after realising that he's a piece up. The boy tried to talk his way out of this by claiming that he'd only said "in this position I'll never agree to a draw". Anyway, after he owned up to actually having uttered the word "draw", we ruled the game drawn. So let this be a lesson to all of you out there - keep your mouth shut during a game as required by the rules. If you don't, surprising things might transpire.

After a horror trip back to Frankfurt on Sunday afternoon I concluded the weekend watching some movies with my girlfriend. Having dodged dying in the snow, I now nearly died laughing while watching Charlie Chaplin's "The Great Dictator".

It's a satirical alienation of the Nazi regime, shot during the high tide of the regime in 1940. This was Chaplin's first talking movie, and gladly so, because I could constantly piss myself laughing at the great dictator's inauguration speech, which is rendered in some German sounding gibberish in order to mock the real one's oratory style.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Hangover Chess

The league match against Bensheim unfortunately brought about a major drawback in my team's bid for promotion as we lost 3.5:4.5 to our strong opponents. We were well on course after taking an early lead but got turned down in the end because of two gross blunders under time pressure, which cost at least one point, if not even one and a half.

This outcome is even more annoying because Lather and I came well prepared. Of course, when I say well prepared, I mean preparation as it was once understood by Fitschel's team SC Steinbach. That is, you simply get rascally drunk the night before the match and make an honest effort not to touch a chessboard while doing so.

I therefore made sure that my rucksack was tightly packed with various alcoholic beverages when I set out for Lather's place on Saturday. The obvious outcome of this enterprise was, of course, that we were badly hung over when we eventually awoke on Sunday. Thus prepared we managed to score two solid wins, although Lather had to work for almost six hours before he had finished the job. Needless to say that we were suffering the whole day from the vicious side effects of this kind of preparation...

I had the good luck to reach a won position very quickly and apparently was not hung over enough to spoil it:

Uwira (2222) - Kargoll (2201)

1. d4 e6 2. c4 Nf6 3. g3 d5 4. Bg2 c5 5. Nf3 Nc6 6. O-O cxd4?!

This is not good because White is able to reach some kind of Grünfeld Reversed where Black has locked up his light-squared bishop voluntarily.

7. Nxd4 Qb6?! 8. Nb5!?

After Black's 7th move, White could also have kept things simple by 8.Nxc6 bxc6 9.Nc3 which sets up the Grünfeld Reversed theme. However, if you're still intoxicated at this crossroads, you might be getting adventurous ideas. My move does not seem bad, though, because it's also Rybka's choice. It relies on the assumption that Black can't really play 8...a6 because White should be able to make his better development tell.

To my delight my opponent didn't sense danger here and in fact played that move, instead of e.g. 8...dxc4 9.N1c3 when White still has a pull because of his strong development.

8...a6? 9. Be3 Qa5

9...Qd8 10.N5c3 dxc4 11.Qxd8+ followed by 12.Nd2 also doesn't look very promising for Black.

10. N5c3 dxc4 11. Nd2 Nd5 12. Nxc4 Nxe3

This zwischenzug must have been what Black had relied on, but White can now reach a decisive advantage in various ways. The simple way would be 13.Nxa5 Nxd1 14.Nxc6 Nxc3 15.bxc3 which I dismissed because I thought it was not a clear enough advantage. What I hadn't seen here was that Black has no sufficient way to defend his b-pawn in view of White's Na5 followed by Rab1. So 13.Nxa5 was the clean way to go. My move is also good, but the position becomes a little messier.

13. fxe3 Qc7 14. Ne4 f6 15. Rc1 Bd7 16. Ned6+ Bxd6 17. Qxd6

Black is done for, because either he'll lose his b-pawn after taking on d6 or he'll come under a deadly attack after 17...0-0-0 18.Rfd1 followed by Qc5. My opponent now went into the tank for almost a full hour and as I was wandering around waiting for him to move I suddenly felt an urgent need to find the bathroom and be sick.

So off I went and prayed to the porcelain god, thanking him that my position was clearly won already! The rest of the game is Black agony and not even a few second best moves on my part could spoil the party anymore...

17...Qxd6 18. Nxd6+ Ke7 19. Nxb7 Rab8 20. Nc5 Ne5 21. b3 a5 22. Rfd1 Bb5 23. Bf3 Rhc8 24. Kf2 Rb6 25. Nb7 Rxc1 26. Rxc1 a4 27. Rc7+ Nd7 28. b4 a3 29. Na5 Kd6 30. Rc3 Ne5 31. Rxa3 $18 Nxf3 32. exf3 e5 33. Rc3 Ke6 34. Nb3 Rd6 35. a4 1-0

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mate! Mate! Mate!

Tomorrow will bring the 5th league match of this year's campaign with my team SC 1961 König Nied. It's an away fixture against Bensheim, a town some 70 km south of Frankfurt and their team is quite strong, as they've only been relegated to our league last season and are now competing for first place in order to move up again.

Two years ago, both teams met in the higher league and I've got fond memories of this encounter. We managed to beat them 4.5:3.5 and I scored the first point after just about one hour of play by delivering swift mate against my slightly higher rated opponent:

Uwira (2293) - Petri (2316)

I had known my opponent for ages as we started our chess "careers" in the same region and also attended the same school. I knew he didn't know much theory due to his job and his other interests but that wasn't to fool me because I also knew that he is a very creative player capable of tenacious defending. In this game he screwed up badly, though.

1. d4 d5 2. c4 e6 3. Nc3 c6 4. Nf3 Nf6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. g4 Nxg4 8. Rg1

We're playing the Shabalov Attack of the Anti Meran System and now the main line is 8...f5 9.h3 Nf6 10.Rxg7 Se4 followed by Qf6. He'd been out of theory after 7.g4 though and had to think his way through from there.

8...Nxh2 9. Nxh2 Bxh2 10. Rxg7 Bd6

Here White might play 11.Bd2 and leave the h-pawn alone while completing development. Play would probably become very sharp, however, which is why I decided to play it safe and continue with a small but stable edge.

11. Rxh7 Rxh7 12. Qxh7 Nf6?!

In the post-mortem analysis, I was convinced that this is too risky. Nothing has changed my opinion since then. Black's king will be stuck in the centre and this will inhibit black counterplay by means of e6-e5 or c6-c5. I believe 12...Qf6 was the way to go.

13. Qh8+ Ke7 14. Qh4 Bb4 15. Bd2

White has played a couple of natural moves and has now got considerable pressure. Currently the threat is to win a pawn with Nxd5 and analysis showed that the best Black could do here is to play 15...Kd7, impeding his development even more. His position might hold, though, because the pawn triangle provides a solid shelter.

However, my opponent didn't have a good day and committed an incredible blunder by not only missing the threat of Nxd5 but by playing a move after which Nxd5 will even bring about direct mate!

15...Bd7?? 16. Nxd5+ 1-0

Black resigned because of 16...cxd5 17.Bxb4+ Ke8 18.Qh8+ or 16...exd5 17.Bxb4+ Ke6 18. Bh3+. He could not even try to bail out with 16...Kf8 because White will give mate anyway after 17.Qh8+ Ng8 18.Bxb4+.

See also my teammate Lather's preview (in German).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The Curse Of The Webworld

Imagine you were a painter who got hired to paint somebody's house. The client doesn't specify exactly what colour he wants but instead shows you some vague pictures of other houses and says "somehow like these".

So you spend some time mixing colours and paint little drawings with them before you start the real painting. You show the drawings to your client who mostly says "All's well, go ahead". On other occasions he doesn't give any feedback whatsoever. So eventually you decide to get going and use the colour you think he's been most fond of.

Of course, once you've finished painting the house your client doesn't like the colour and wants you to change it.

You think this is farfetched? You think this doesn't happen in real life? Oh buddy...

Exactly this happened to me this evening when I was asked to change the colours of a web site I had designed. This also meant altering the graphics considerably and the client apparently wasn't aware of the fact that their little request was not little at all. And the design looks worse now, but I guess this is just my personal opinion.

Anyway, this is not the end of it. Web design customers can be much worse, as the following illustration shows:

The Curse Of The Webworld

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

An Exciting Day At The Pub

When it comes to the football club called Bayern München, I'm usually in two minds, probably aided by my zodiac sign, which is Gemini. When Bayern faced their worst nightmare at the Nou Camp in 1999, I was actually the only one among the friends I watched that match with who dearly wanted Manchester United to win. I also expressed this opinion pretty straightforwardly and got some sharp looks by my friends...

Ten years from then I have become wiser, as I gradually came to realise that success in the Champions League is vital for German football. It doesn't actually matter which team has got success as long as there is success, which would eventually lead to a better standing of the Bundesliga in the UEFA ranking and thus to more German participants. And as we all know, it's raining star thalers in the Champions League, which are desperately needed around here since we can't have sugar daddies from Russia or Dubai to pimp our clubs due to the 50+1 rule that forces clubs in Germany to hold more shares than any potential investor.

Thus I found myself to support Bayern tonight in their encounter with Juventus Turin. And I also found myself to support our current holders VfL Wolfsburg in their bid against Manchester United. I did this even though they have been pimped by Volkswagen during the first decade of the millenium but still I'd rather see them advance than bloody Juventus, who really shouldn't be playing in the Champions League only two and a half years after having been relegated because of match fixing. Imagine what would have happened to the Boors from Kaiserslautern if they'd committed that deed - they surely would not be playing in the 2. Bundesliga these days, but far deeper down the pyramid. Besides Juventus are also hyped by a car manufacturer...

Still, the other self of me still wanted to see Bayern lose, and after 30 minutes of atrocious Bavarian play, this other self was on its way to be satisfied. After 19 minutes Bastian Schweinsteiger and Holger Badstuber were watching in awe as David Trezeguet took the ball and hammered it home just from inside the box.

The game turned around 10 minutes later when Bayern got a penalty because the otherwise magnificient Ivica Olic made sure his ankle stayed where the foot of Juventus defender Caceres was going to be a couple of milliseconds later. The score was subsequently levelled by Hans-Jörg Butt, the most dangerous goalkeeper in the world when it comes to scoring, who put an awesome penalty beyond Gianluigi Buffon.

Bayern now seemed a different team, as they really pounded on the Juventus defense for the rest of the match. It didn't help Juventus to bring on an additional defender at half-time in an attempt to hold on to the draw that would have seen them through at the expense of Bayern. There was no kidding with the Bavarians in the second half. They played as if they were rabid maniacs, taking their chance to vent all the grief that had accumulated since their last and only Champions League victory in 2001.

So they went on and put another three past a side that, according the the TV pundit, had not lost a game after taking a 1:0 lead for 76 consecutive 1:0 leads. Ivica Olic played the match of his life and even Mario Gomez managed to score - something that has become rare in recent times.

Unfortunately the perfect evening didn't transpire because the Wolves were turned down 1:3 by Manchester United in spite of a very good performance and incredible fighting spirit. Being by far the better team, they got hit three times by Michael Owen, who had already done that deed back in Munich in 2001 when England thrashed Germany 5:1...

Anyway, I hope Wolfsburg are not going to despair. I'm sure they'll prod serious butt in the oncoming UEFA league playoffs - they've come to stay. As for Bayern: I hope you'll appreciate my rare support and will now bloody go on to win the thing!

A Late Night Special

I have already threatened to do this in my blog descriptions and now I'm going to put my money where my mouth is: I'm posting a video of Saturday's performance where I'm singing in Swedish...

Again the question "Why?" is lurking but this time the answer is rather easy. Kent are simply a very good band but almost all of their lyrics are in Swedish. Their current album Röd has been recorded in Berlin, however, and I've already seen reviews of it in German newspapers. I guess it's just a matter of time now until their current single will be aired on MTV - with one caveat: you'll probably have to stay up late until stuff like Rockzone comes by.

The song Sundance Kid is the first song I've ever heard of them, and it is still one of my favourites, which is why it got incorporated into our repertoire.

I actually wanted to post the genuine article here as well, but unfortunately the song is no longer available on YouTube because of royalty issues. So you'll have to stick with our interpretation for now...

Monday, December 7, 2009

Ye Olde Crusher

Boris Gelfand of Isreal, who must almost be considered a dinosaur of world class chess with his 41 years of age, has become the first finalist of this year's World Cup after handing out a devastating crush to young Sergey Karjakin (19) in the second match of their semifinal encounter.

Gelfand, who had already won the first game yesterday by countering an opening novelty of Karjakin with an astonishing piece sacrifice, struck again with White today in an even more convincing fashion:

1. d4 Nf6 2. c4 e6 3. Nf3 d5 4. Nc3 c6 5. e3 Nbd7 6. Qc2 Bd6 7. Bd3 O-O 8. O-O dxc4 9. Bxc4 b5 10. Be2 Bb7 11. Rd1 Qc7 12. Bd2 e5 13. Rac1 a6

Up until now play appeared to be standard. Black has achieved the freeing pawn thrust e6-e5 and White is now trying to take advantage of the central tension that has been created. While I was browsing through the game I thought the game would most likely develop into an endgame grind but then I saw Gelfand's next move...

14. b4!

I have not checked this with an engine but the move is certainly a very strong one if Black is not able to come up with a tactical solution pretty fast: White simply clamps down on the c5-square, exploiting the little tactic 14...Bxb4 15. Nxb5 followed by Bxb4, when White will still be clamping down on the key square.

14...Rfe8 15. Bd3 Bxb4?

After one preparing move, Karjakin is tempted into taking the pawn, as 16.Nxb5?? now allows 16...axb5 17.Bxb4 e4 which wins a piece for Black. Gelfand, however, has seen far ahead - very far indeed and I can only guess where Karjakin stopped calculating. I'd put my money on White's 21st move, which is a very nasty one and easy to miss, too (at least from my point of view).

16. Ng5! h6

16...Bxc3 17.Bxh7+ would leave Black in even deeper trouble.

17. Nxb5 axb5 18. Bh7+

The first point: After the forced reply, White can capture the bishop with check.

18...Kf8 19. Bxb4+ c5 20. dxc5 Bc6

It seems as if Black is in control again. He has blocked the pawn on c5 and threatens to take over the initiative, e.g. 21. Nh3 e4 22. Bf5 and now the Black king would be able to safely return to g8 while Black could start the siege of White's a-pawn. However, Gelfand has seen further than here...

21. Be4!!

White has just produced one of those moves that we're calling "A...lochzüge" in German, i.e. "a..hole moves" in English. It decides the game because it allows White to keep the initiative with Black not having had a chance to consolidate yet.


Neither 21...Bxe4 22.c6+ nor 21...hxg5 22.Bxc6 Qxc6 23.Rd6 followed by a discovered check offer Black chances of survival.

22. Nh7+ Nxh7 23. Bxh7 g6 24. Rd6 Re7 25. h4 h5 26. Bxg6 fxg6 27. Qxg6 Rxa2 28. Rcd1 Rf7 29. Qh6+ Rg7 30. Qf6+ Kg8 31. Rd8+ Kh7 32. Qf5+ Rg6 33. Qxh5+ Rh6 34. Qf5+ 1-0

An absolutely beautiful game!

Sunday, December 6, 2009


This is about a wretched perfomance of my acoustic band, dating Dec 5th 2009, where we had a bit of trouble with the audience. The audience, in fact, had not been there, and we got quite upset about having to play for a non-existing audience. Apparently the Christmas Market was far more interesting than us and my cynical mind might even be ready to admit that our potential audience might have been right on the spot...

Nevertheless, I'm going to present a recording from yesterday's session, just for the sake of finding something at all to publish from this session. It's a song I wrote quite some time ago. In my opinion it's a hit, but I don't manage to get in a live performance that matches the expectations I'm having towards this song...

Anyway, it's NOT about substance abuse in Frankfurt's parks, I swear it's not ((-:

Revilopedia? Why?

I already registered this blog about two years ago but I have lacked since the incentives to actually use it - up until a couple of weeks ago, when blogs authored by friends of mine suddenly began to spring up like mushrooms.

Contrary to the blogs of my friends, I'm going to write in English. This could of course lead to a bigger audience than sticking to my native German, but I'm more into the writing practice thing here. Also I might be able to win some of my English speaking friends as regular readers.

As I've already stated in the welcome message at the top, I don't mind comments being in another language than English. Quite the contrary! I'll surely appreciate comments from a wide range of readers and the diversity that this will bring about.

That's it for starters - I hope you'll enjoy this undertaking!