Sunday, May 28, 2006

Chuckie is a girl!!!

For several years we have had a wood chuck living under our shed in the backyard. Cheryl had named him "Chuckie." But a couple days ago I had noticed there was a "Chuckie Jr." along with Chuck Sr., so I can say that Chucky is definitly a female. We haven't come up with a more appropriate name yet for Chuckie. Send us a comment with any suggestions. Today, I went and planted myself in the camper and just waited. I caught Chucky Jr (from hence known as "Woody" per Cheryl) peeking out from under the shed. Update, there appear to be two offspring, not just one. So if anyone has a good second name for the second, just let us know.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Game of the Week

Played on FICS Friday May 26th.


A pretty passive opening move!

1. ... d5
2.Bg2 e6
3.d3 c5
4.Nc3 Nc6
5.Nf3 d4

His whole opening has been very passive and has basically surrendered the center to me. My d pawn has been pushed up to d4, it has become a thorn in his side and should cost him a hole piece to get rid of it. This game is a good example why all of the opening book say you should fight for the center.

A huge error, allowing Qa5+, which forks the King and Knight. The Knight is undefended.

6. ... Qa5+


Nc3 would probably be better, getting rid of my nasty d4 pawn.

7. ... Qxb5
8.b3 Nf6
9.0-0 Be7
10. a4 Qb6
11. c3 0-0
12. a5 Qd8
13. cxd4 cxd4
14. h4

This move is questionable, weakening his King cage.
14. ... e5

Reinforces my d pawn and allows my light squared Bishop to be developed.

15. e3 Bg4

Pins his Knight.

16. Qc2

He unpins his knight.

16. ... Rc8

Threatens a discovered attack on the Queen.
Notice how I have developed two pieces by forcing him to move his queen multiple times. The queen must always retreat because she is the most valuable, improving my position while weakening his.

17. Qb1 Nd7
18. Nh2 Bf5
19. g4

He is weakening his king side badly, just to get rid of a bishop.

19. ... Be6
20. h5 Bg5
21. Bh3 Nf6
22. Nf3 Nxg4

I am ahead in material, trading is not a problem for me. Especially when I win a pawn in the deal!

23. Nxg5 Qxg5

I am now threatening a discovered attack on the king!

24. Kh1 Qh4

Pins the Bishop
25. Kg2 Nxe3+ !

Wins a pawn and exchanges a night for a bishop. Yes there are now 2 hitters on his Bishop. It also sets up the mating sequence.

26. fxe3 Bxh3+
27. Kg1 Qg3+
28. Kh1 Qg2#

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Oh My ..., What a GALAXY!!!

I really didn't have a plan for Saturday night (05.20.2006,) but the sky was remaining clear. This year has been mostly cloudy and on the days that weren't cloudy, I usually had to work the next day. Since I have to be to work at 6:15am and work a 12 hour shift, I usually can't observe on a "School Night." So I packed my gear, because Saturday was NOT a school night:

Telescope case, which includes the LX-90 telescope.
The wedge
My eye piece cases
Observing chair
a laptop pc

I left my tripod at home, since there are piers at Ashton Observatory (My dark sky site.)

I am currently working on my Herschel 400 list. I have written an app that keeps track of what objects I have found (and haven't) and then sorts them by how many hours they will be up when the sun isn't . I printed off the first three pages of the "Not Found Herschel 400 List" and added it to my gear.

After arriving at Ashton Observatory, I set my Wedge up on one of the piers which was badly out of alignment. It took me a half hour to get that corrected and to finish setting my telescope up. Then I went in and listened to the evening's scheduled program.

After the program, I came out but it was still dusk. But as soon as I could see Polaris, I did a quick polar alignment. The LX-90 (20cm) is a goto telescope, which means you also need to do a two-star alignment. I could now see Arcturus so I went for it.

I then looked at Jupiter, while waiting for it to get dark enough to start my list. Jupiter is always fun to look at.

22:10 ngc 5466, saw a soft glow. Checked it off.
22:10 ngc 5248, could easily see a galaxy. Nothing special, checked it off.
22:12 ngc 4203, a tight little galaxy, checked it off.
22:14 ngc 4565. OH MY ..., what a GALAXY!!!

What I was looking at was a thin sliver of light running almost the entire diameter of my eye piece. I had in my usual 32mm, giving me 64x magnification and about .6 degrees field of view. The galaxy was definitly an edge on galaxy and what a beauty at that.

I now know that I was looking at the "Needle Galaxy," NGC 4565 or Caldwell 38. According to Stephen O'Meara in "The Caldwell Objects," "It Is the largest and most famous edge on galaxy in the night sky." And I might add, it is one of the few galaxies that look similar through the eye piece as in the famous images. When I changed eye pieces to the 15 mm (mid powered eye piece - 135x) I could even make out the core.

NGC 4565: Needle Galaxy
Credit and Copyright: William McLaughlin (ARGO Cooperative Observatory)

Friday, May 19, 2006

Image of the week

We beleive this is a Rose-Breasted Grosbeak.

King (or maybe Queen, I can't tell) of Squirrel Island. This is one of the sand bars in Beaver Creek, it is usually only inhabitted by squirrels. When the creek is at its normal level it is about twice the size seen here, there are several downed trees (presently submerged) which gives the squirrels easy access.

Chess and Poetry Garden

Des Moines has a new park. "The Chess and Poetry garden" was dedicated Tuesday May 16th. It is part of the new Central Library Complex, which itself was just opened back in April 06, 2006. Through out the summer, the Des Moines Chess Club will be playing here Tuesday nights at 6pm.

Des Moines Register Article
Des Moines Register Article
Des Moines Register Article Roger Gotschall of Ames and I played a couple of games (I am on the left.) I won both games.

John Roth (right), one of our club's stronger players is involved in a game of his own.

Tim McEntee, State Co-champion is playing another strong player from Ames.

Assorted pictures from the new park. All images for this article were taken by Cheryl Haimann.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Game of the Week

Played Sunday 2006.05.14 on Free Internet Chess Server

When I saw my opponents rating (1398,) I thought “Well I am going to lose this game.” Because his rating was about 50 points higher then my current rating. Generally speaking though, I have a tendency to win those games where I don't think I have chance because I am not overly confident.


This is my usual opening for white, it is more strategic in focus, while e4 is more tactical.

... Nf6

This is the King's Indian line
2.c4 e6

He's no longer in book, I am basically on my own.

3.Nc3 Bb4

He is pinning my knight, hoping by exchanging a bishop for a knight so that he can damage my pawn structure enough to win the end game. I am going to let him. A bishop has a true value of 3.5 points, while a knight is worth only 3. Bishops usually dominate over knight, especially in an open position.

I force him to make his mind up, exchange the Bishop or retreat.
... Bxc3+
5.bxc3 c5

He would like me to take his pawn on c5, giving me tripled pawns which are very weak. I would prefer that he takes, which after I retake will repair my pawn structure.

This defends against him planting his Knight on e4, followed by a queen to a5 would put a double hit on my helpless c3 pawn. Now it will take him longer.
... Qa5

As I expected, he pins my c3 pawn with his Queen.


This unpins the pawn. Now cxd no longer wins the d pawn

.... Nc6
8.e3 0-0

Developing moves.
... d5

Now the fight for the center.


His biggest threat right now is cxd, making me waste a tempo on Bxd, while I have lined up my Bishop and Queen on his h7 pawn which would damage his King cage.

I would also like to move my c3 pawn to make a discovered attack on his Queen.
... Re8

He is hoping to create a ugly pin on my e3 pawn (after some pawn trades.) I decide to castle and end the tactical threat.
11.0-0 h6

h6 is probably a waste of a good tempo. Notice the potential for a discovered attack on the black queen.

12.cxd5 exd5
13.c4 Qc7

With the discovered attack on the Queen, I win a pawn. Not a game winning move, but a slight advantage.

14.dxc5 dxc4

We now have an open position, my Bishops should dominate.

... Bg4

He is hoping to damage my king cage after 16. ... Bxf3 17. gxf
So I just move the Night out, where it actually is more powerful.

16.Nd4 Rad8

He probably should have exchanged Nights. Now my Knight is free to look for a stronger square. Nb5 attacks the Queen and then lets my Knight plant itself on d6, where it will become a thorn in his side. A Knight on the rim is dim, but a well placed Night can be worth a rook!

17.Nb5 Qe5
18.Nd6 Re7

He is now threating my c5 pawn with his Queen, which will undermine the defense of my Knight, but I can defend the whole mess by Bc3. Bc3 threatens to exchange my Bishop for his Knight and then if he retakes his King cage is damaged. If he doesn't retake I will win the exchange of BxR.
19.Bc3 Qxc5

It's not good, but he did it. I actually under analyzed the whole mess (this was speed chess afterall) and didn't realize how good the move was. Because after Bxf6 gxf, Bxf7 leaving a discovered attack on his Queen.

20.Bxf6 gxf6
21.Bxf7+ Rxf7

His position is now a mess and he misses obvious threats. The game is now basically over. I have won a Queen and a pawn for the price of a Bishop and Bishop for Knight exchange. A gain of 6.5 points for those of you who are counting. Whats more his pawn structure on the King side is a total mess, he has just two isolated pawns.

23.Qc4+ Kg7

I am now up a whole Queen plus a pawn, his position is hopeless and therefore he resigns.
In the FICS rating system, I go up 9 points for my effort.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


Due to middle aged heath problems, I now am supposed to walk 2.5 hours per week. What I usually do is on the days I work (I work 12 hour shifts) is use one 15 minute break for my lunch (a Weight Watchers tv dinner) and combine all of the remaining lunch and break time into a one hour break. This I use to take a walk on the bicycle trail behind where I work.
The trail (Greenbelt Park, Johnston Iowa) is a combination of prairie and woods with Beaver Creek running through the middle of it. Well, within a month or so of starting these walks, I wanted a camera. So I purchased a cheap 3x optical Fuji camera, but after using that camera for six months or so it broke. So I LET Cheryl ( upgrade her Olympus 3.4 MP 10x camera to a 10x 5mp Kodak and I got the Olympus.

The best picture that I got with the Fuji was of a Great Blue Heron last October. I had been noticing it in flight, for several weeks. Well I noticed it appear to land in the creek and tried to get close enough to take a picture, but it saw me and took off and flew a ways down the creek. It was late in my walk and I didn't have much time, but I tried to follow it and got lucky and found it fishing in the creek and got the picture above.

Well this spring I have been watching a pair of mallard ducks and geese (they are everywhere.) I am pretty sure that the mallards had a nest and had laid some eggs. But about two weeks ago we had a big rain storm and the creek had risen several feet and I am afraid the mallard's have lost their clutch.

The Cat's Eye


My name is Terry.

Early this year I upgraded Telescopes to a Meade 8" LX-90 from a non goto LX-10. Now if you compared telescopes to cars, the LX-10 would be a Yugo, it has marginal optics and its tracking was never that good and of course the object had to be located first. While the LX-90 is a Chevy Impala, not top of the line but very capable. It has fairly good optics, goto and relatively good tracking.

At about the same time I purchased a Meade DSI imager. Now the weather this year has been mostly cloudy and I have only gotten my scope out a few times. There has also been a learning curve with the new telescope and the DSI imager. I am afraid I am also suffering from Murphy's Law of telescopes (When a new telescope is purchased, cloudy weather will prevail.)

Well the following is the first relatively good image obtained with the LX-90/DSI combo.

The Cats Eye is what is known as a "Planetary Nebula." The name is historical and has nothing to do with planets, earlier astronomers thought they looked like planets forming in deep space. It is now known that they are dying stars, that have exhausted their main source of energy (hydrogen) and are now losing their outer shells of gas to deep space. You can read all about Planetary Nebula's at: I read somewhere that a Planetary Nebula is a wreath laid down for a dead star. Now this image is only a few minutes in length and therefore I didn't get a lot of detail.