Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Chess Tactic: Giving Up the Exchange

In this game, we see a very typical Tal attack. If we look at the final position, we can see how helpless Black's King is. Black's King is trapped in his original position threatened by White's Queen and Rook.

In order to attain victory, there are times that we need to momentarily give up the exchange to gain initiative. Unreasonably holding on to your pieces often spells disaster in games where the initiative is more important than the relative value of the pieces.

Tal vs. Bronsten (Final Position; After 38. Kd2)

Chess Tactic: Clearance Sacrifice

As in life itself, time is of the essence in chess. If you are in the attack and your own piece is blocking your way to victory, it is then logical to sacrifice that piece to save valuable time. This tactic is known as the "clearance sacrifice".
Tal vs. Benko (after 23. Bf8; 1-0)
In this game, we see that Tal's Bishop is blocking the Queen from the h6 square. To mount a indefensible attack, he sacrificed the Bishop. Black's pieces were helpless amidst Tal's relentless attack after the sacrifice of the Bishop at f8.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Lets Get Out and Bike

When I joined the recently concluded 4th National Bicycle Day on November 26, 2017, I met someone who uses a bicycle to work. Meeting someone who "bike commutes" is definitely great news for our country and the environment.  During our talk, while waiting the "ride out" of  this event organized by the National Bicycle Organization of the Philippines, he told me about the benefits and the dangers of commuting to work by bike. It is again the lack of bicycle lanes that is cited as the main reason why commuting to work on a bicycle has not been appealable to a lot of people.

We all know the benefits of biking to ourselves, to our country and to the environment. However encouraging the use of bicycles seems not on the priority list of our authorities. The various plans that would encourage the use of bicycles such as the putting up of integrated or connected bicycle lanes are yet to be implemented. These plans, hopefully, are not totally abandoned. If the use of bicycles are supported and encouraged, I think we can have that "realistic solution" to the traffic mess we are all in right now.

During the said event, I first experienced how it is to ride around Metro Manila at night.  Ride out from the Kilometer Zero in Rizal Park started almost two hours after midnight and the ride practically covered the whole of Metro Manila. Bikers were assisted by Marshalls and accompanied by traffic police personnel and an ambulance. It was tough but the experience was worth it. A raffle of bicycles and other cycling gears concluded the event at the venue where it all started.

Friday, November 24, 2017

First Impressions (2018 Merida Big Seven 80-D (27.5) Mountain Bike)

I have been using a mountain bike with a  "Mosso Frame" I bought in Cartimar in Pasay City. It has a 26 inch wheel coupled with great components.

After years of enjoying that bike, I thought it is time to add more. I just recently got a Dahon Folding Bike at Raptor and a 2018 Merida Big Seven 80-D with a 27.5 inch wheels at Ryan Bikes Lagro. With the great benefits we can derived from cycling, it is indeed a better move to just get out and bike.

Since I had been using a 26 inch wheel for years, I thought of upgrading to a larger wheel size. I first tried the 29. But after getting on the bike, I was not that comfortable. The staff at Ryanbikes were very helpful in providing the needed advice and suggestion. In choosing a mountain bike, it is necessary that it fits you and you are comfortable riding it. A bike where it is a "wrong fit" can create a lot of problems and body aches. I then settled for the 27.5 wheel size. I think that transitioning from a 26 inch wheel to a 29 is a big leap and not a good idea at that time.

I got a discount for my purchase and a freebie. I was also assured that if there  are needed repairs or adjustments, I can simply visit the store and everything is free. This is what I like when buying bicycles - the "after-sales service". It is definitely a good move to choose a store that provides a reliable after-sales service. A bike would necessarily demand adjustments and repairs no matter how it is used or abused.

The Merida Big Seven 80-D with its 27.5 inch wheel is truly a fun machine. It is stable and easy to handle even for a beginner. Its handlebar is rightly sized for a more confident ride and the hydraulic disc brakes makes you feel much safer on the road or on the trail. Its shifting mechanism works perfectly with a working knowledge on proper shifting.

"2018 MERIDA BIG SEVEN 80-D 2018 (27.5) SPECS:
Frame 6061 series double butted and technoformed aluminium
Forks Suntour XCR 100mm travel fork with remote lockout and 32mm stanchions
Headset Merida M44PSE
Handlebars Merida Speed Oversize clamp 690mm wide 15mm rise
Stem Merida Expert 3d forged 6061 aluminium, oversize clamp 7 degree
Shifters 30 Speed Shimano Deore 30 speed rapid fire shifters
Front Mech Shimano Deore
Rear Mech Shimano XT Shadow, 30 speed
Chainset Shimano MT500 40-30-22 teeth
Bottom Bracket Shimano 52 BSA
Chain KMC X10-1
Cassette Shimano CS-HG50, 10 speed, 11-36
Front Brake Shimano M315 hydraulic disc, 160mm rotors
Rear Brake Shimano M315 hydraulic disc, 160mm rotors
Rims Merida Alloy, 32 hole
Front Hub Shimano TX505, 32 hole, centrelock, quick release
Rear Hub Shimano TX505, 32 hole, centrelock, quick release
Spokes Black stainless
Tyres Merida K1080 27.5" * 2.2" wire bead with 30tpi sidewall FrontMerida K1080 27.5" * 2.2" wire bead with 30tpi sidewall Rear
Seatpost Merida Speed 27.2mm
Pedals VP, VPE-891"

I you intend to get your first mountain bike, I hope this guide may be of help.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Better Move: Encourage the Use of Bicycles

Why Ride a Bike?

"Driving a Car Burns Fuel and Saves Fat
Biking Burns Fat and Saves Fuel"

In chess as in life itself, when you find a good move it is always best to find a better one. With the herculean traffic mess we are all in right now, it is indeed a better move to encourage the use of bicycles! It is great for the health, the environment and for the country. There is no doubt about that. But the way things are getting, it seems that this particular activity is still awaiting that much needed support from everyone concerned. Years ago, there had been plans of putting up bicycle lanes on major thoroughfares that were supposed to be "connected", "integrated" and "safer".  With what I am seeing right now, those plans are still to be implemented. I just hope that those plans for the benefit of the biking public will not be entirely shelved.

Scenes: 18th Tour of the Fireflies 2017

Each time I travel along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City (notoriously described as the "killer highway"), I see a lot of cyclists as if trying to play survivor in the midst of vehicles mostly with "why would I care attitude". But, each time I see a cyclist either off to work or embarking to any other destination while literally fighting for life in this highway, I feel some sort of confirmation that there is still hope for this country. Imagine if half of the cars on the road were bicycles, traffic congestion will be miraculously solved. Instead of the ineffective vehicle reduction scheme being implemented, it is a better move to simply encourage the use of bicycles by reducing its inherent dangers posed by errant drivers and the lack of bike lanes

Again, imagine if just half of the vehicles on the road were bikes; if there are bicycle lanes that continuously connect one major thoroughfare to the other with barriers for safety, more people would definitely go out and bike; if only there is a bicycle lane similar to that in EDSA along Commonwealth Avenue that is "continuously connected" or "integrated" to other major highways, more people would be encouraged to ride a bicycle instead of taking a monthly amortized vehicle riddled with maintenance costs and parking problems to work.

With this in mind, we need to support advocacies that promote the use of bicycles just like the recently concluded Tour of the Fireflies which is now on its 18th year reckoned from its humble beginnings in UP NCPAG.

Roads are definitely meant to be shared!

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Five (5) Must See Pieces (Museo Orlina,Tagaytay)

To see beauty in art pieces is something particular to the individual. It is not to be imposed by anyone for beauty is always on the eye of the beholder. In eccentric chess patterns, I find beauty which only a few can see.

I may see something beautiful in a work of art that others cannot. In this dimension, respect begets respect. Beauty in art pieces is unlimited. Imagination only provides a guiding post in an effort to create something beautiful. As I walk around a museum, I often see beauty in a different light. Perhaps, in works of art finding what is beautiful should not be a task, not a mere coincidence, nor a product of profound aesthetic search but something an individual can see from an angle different from others.

I visited Museo Orlina not to search for something beautiful. However, certain pieces on display on my own belief merit attention and more of your precious time while inside this museum.

(1) Volkswagen signed by BenCab -

(2) Basketball Mi Mundo (Study; 35 x 26 x 26 cm; Carved Republic Glass and Stainless
Steel; 2000) -

(3) Carabaos by National Artist Napoleon Abueva -

(4) Wooden Sculpture by National Artist Napoleon Abueva (56 x 20 x 19 cm; 1990; A Gift for Ramon Orlina -

(5) Lady Holding A Flower by Isabelo Tampinco (63.5 x 25.4 x 25.4 cm; Bonded Marble; Circa 1920s; Collection of Ernesto and Araceli Salas) -

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

If You Can Only Mute the World (Tronsmart Encore S2 Headphone)

I have been looking for that perfect headset or earphone that can totally mute the world. I mean, I want something that I can put in my ear to shut the whole world out. I fancy having that Muzo -  a noise cancelling devise that can “create your personal space”. Just imagine if you can put the world on silent mode and have quite space where you can just hold a book and read. I think many of us would like to have that peace and quiet.  In YouTube there are several gadgets and devices that are tested, reviewed and allegedly provide a noise cancelling experience. Unfortunately however, those gadgets are not available in our gigantic malls.

I made a screenshot of some noise cancelling devices I saw on YouTube and checked several tech stores inside malls in Quezon City. I went to Cyberzone in SM Fairview, SM North, Trinoma, Fairview Terraces and UP Town Center. Despite my effort I cannot find a headphone or an earphone with a "noise cancelling feature". All that I found only has a “noise isolation” component except the pricey (1) Sony priced at around P8,000.00 which I spotted at Fairview Terraces and (2) Bose for P20,000.00 that I stumbled upon in SM North.  I never bought any of them because (1) I wanted an earphone not a headset, (2) I would never have the chance to try the product unless I am committed to buy it. According to the Saleslady, once the box is opened I am already obligated to buy the product, (3) the price is steep and would only be reasonable if I get to try the gadget and I am sure that it really work.  

While there are headsets and earphones posted on OLX that are advertised to have a “noise cancelling feature”, I opted not to arrange a meetup that I find inconvenient. It is indeed regrettable that most of the gadgets I saw on YouTube are still not available in the Philippines and can only be ordered online which would take days or weeks to arrive. I am also not accustomed to buying online yet as I want to test the product before I make a purchase. I thus instead bought for P1500.00, perhaps out of desperation, Tronsmart Encore S2 Wireless Sport Headphone in SM Fairview. This headphone (actually its an earphone) has the following features: (1) Water/Sweat resistance rating of IPX34; (2) DSP technology reduces noise and increases call resolution by 30%; (3) Compatible with all wireless versions; (4) Powerful Voice Answer/Reject digital microphone to make calls clearer; (5) Up to 12 hours talk-time; and it has a (6) Neckband design. Yes, this is what the box says.

After using this product, I can say that indeed this earphone reduces noise. If you play music or a video in YouTube the Tronsmart Encore S2 drowns the noise around you creating a world of your own. It comes with extra earbuds where you can choose what fits your ear perfectly. Since it connects with the use of Bluetooth, you can move around and not be restricted by wires. Its being water and sweat resistant coupled with its neckband design makes Tronsmart Encore S2 great for biking and running.

Tronsmart Encore S2 however is not a noise cancelling headphone. If you don't play music or video while wearing this device, you can still hear the noise around you. But every time I do my reading in a coffee shop or somewhere around Fairview Terraces particularly at Coffee Bean near the water fountain, I play relaxing music to mute the world and for me to concentrate on what I am reading. Just imagine if we can stop all the noise around us and have that power to hear only what we want, I think this world will be a much better place to live in.

I will be using Tronsmart Encore S2 but it will not deter me from trying other headphones or earphones with a noise cancellation feature. Sometimes in this very noisy and chaotic world, all I want to do is to just sit down, relax and read in my own quite world.  

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Museo Orlina (Tagaytay City)

There is a new tourist spot in Tagaytay and is definitely something worth the visit – the Museo Orlina. The museum is just a few meters downhill from the Econo Hotel - the first hotel you will see at the ridge from the Tagaytay-Calamba Road. The sign to the museum cannot be missed. In fact, it is this sign that prompted my consciousness that the renowned Ramon Orlina has already opened a museum in Tagaytay. I have heard of Orlina glass sculptures in the past . When I read about the Museo Orlina signage while navigating my vehicle after finally reaching the Tagaytay ridge, I already know that I will be one of its countless visitors.

The museum is a townhouse inside a subdivision where there is a view of the Taal Volcano. Slowly driving downhill, I can already see the museum with its sign perched on the rooftop of the townhouse. There is an entrance fee of P 100.00. After registration, there is three (3) minute film showing about the sculptor and the museum itself. One of the highlights of the film is when BenCab signed the car being painted at its garage.

After the film showing, I slowly walked around the displays of various sculptures and paintings. I looked at a glass sculpture trying to comprehend the message it tries to convey. The sculpture’s color, texture, twists and turns of the glass masterfully crafted is susceptible to various interpretations. I tried to find the interpretation in these sculptures trying to delve into the mind of the artist who created them. What is great about painters and sculptors is that they can create something extraordinary from the ordinary. While a piece of glass is common, it is not when sculpted to perfection. Just take time to look at the pieces of sculpture in this museum and you will definitely see beauty in glass.

I walked from the basement to the top floor of the museum. I tried to look at the pieces with an open mind. It is not easy to understand glass sculptures from my point of view. Is it true that only an artist can understand a fellow artist? I looked closer at the glass sculptures. I stared at each one for several minutes. With an effort, I began to understand how art creates a soul from something without life. I began to understand how a piece of wood or glass can be transformed into something that beautiful. But, as I walked and study the pieces, I know I am not only looking for something beautiful. I want to see beyond the beauty of these works of art. I want to know the story behind these paintings and sculptures.