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Paul Mangone of Seal Beach won the chess game on Monday, Jan. 30. He made smart moves and I held onto a plan that I took far too long to execute in the first place. Here’s what happened.

Mangone moved the Black pawn to c6. I moved the White pawn to e5, capturing Black’s pawn. Mongone moved the Black Knight to e4, capturing White’s pawn. I moved the White pawn to d7, capturing Black’s pawn. I should have moved my King closer to the Knight. I didn’t. Magone  moved the Black Bishop to f5. I moved the White pawn to c7.  I should have moved my Bishop in a counter move. I didn’t. Magone moved the Black Knight to c5. Now White’s King was in check by Black’s Bishop and White’s Queen was under threat of capture by Black’s Knight. The rules required me to protect my King, so I moved White King to b2.

Magone moved the Black Queen to h2, checking White’s King again. I moved the White Queen to c2, blocking the check. But I knew the game was over.

Magone moved the Black Queen to c2, capturing White’s Queen and placing White’s King in Checkmate.

A new challenge will appear on this blog as soon as the winner is announced in the pages of our Thursday print edition.

Always a pleasure,

Charles

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Sometimes the simple moves are the most devastating. Seal Beach resident Paul Mongoni and another (man whose name none of my co-workers bothered to get) made the next three moves for Black.Result: I haven’t been able to launch the attack I’ve had planned for about two weeks.

On Thursday, Jan. 26, Mongone moved the Black Queen to h1, placing White’s King in check. I moved my King to escape check. Mongone moved the Black Knight to f2 and, once again, placed White King in check. I moved my King to c2, once again escaping check. Unfortunately, the game had to stop there because my duties required me to leave the Sun office for the rest of the day.

Today, Friday, Jan. 27, the Unknown Adversary came into the Sun office while I was out and moved the Black Queen from h1 to h5. At first, I didn’t see the point—until I realized that Black’s Queen is now in a position to disrupt my main attack. A new plan is in order. First, though, I have to set up my attack. I’ve moved my White pawn from d2 to d4. You can see where the game now stands in the illustration above. It doesn’t seem like much of a move, does it? My White pawn is threatening a Black pawn,  but so what? Well, I’ve set up two—count ’em, two—traps for Black. More important—Black might not take the bait—I’ve created an opportunity to move my Knight into the action. That will eventually allow me to move my Rook into the action, too.

And I already have a new attack plan in mind. Can you see it? Come into the Sun office and make a move. If I’m there and not on deadline, we’ll make a couple moves against each other. If I’m out, you’ll get one move. I’ll move when I return. Until then—it’s the entire Sun Region’s move. Take your best shot.

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As you can see, things have changed again.

Seal Beach resident Dr. Robert Goldberg, presently representing the entire community by himself, returned Monday, Jan. 23, to launch an effective attack on the White side of the Chess with Charles match.

As you can see by the last illustration I put up, I was positioned to prevent the Black King and the Black Rook from castling, a maneuver that allows two pieces to be moved in one turn.

However, Goldberg moved the night from c6 to d4. (Imaging the letters a to h running from left to right on White’s side of the board. Now imagine the numbers 1 to eight running from the bottom to the top of the board—the top being held by the Black chessmen.)

The move surprised me, because I had expected Black to move the Knight to protect the King and allow a castle.

Foolishly, I ignored the unexpected development and went ahead with my original plan. I move the White pawn from c2 to C3. The one-space move cleared a path so I could eventually position my Queen to attack the far side of the board.

Goldberg then moved the Black Knight to f3, capturing one of White’s Knights.

Irked, but undaunted, I moved my Queen from d1 to b3.

Goldberg moved the night to h2, capturing one of my pawns.

I moved my White Bishop from the White square at d3 to the White square at c4. This set me up to attack the Black King with the Bishop while the Queen offered my Bishop her protection.

However, Goldberg had other plans. He moved the Black Queen from d8 to h4, placing my King in “check.”

That move forced me to delay my attack plans. I moved one of my pawns from g2 to g3, blocking the check on my King and threatening Black’s Queen.

Goldberg moved the Knight from h2 to f3, a move that placed my King in check a second time. This attack forced me to once again postpone my planned attack on Black’s King—and also to pass by my plan to attack Black’s Queen. I moved my King from f2 to e2. My King is safe for the moment, but very vulnerable. Goldberg has two strong pieces deep inside my territory. I am on the defensive.

Meanwhile, Goldberg and I are both looking for other players to enter the game on the Black side.

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Seal Beach Planning Commissioner and Bridgeport neighborhood resident Robert Goldberg made the second move—and drew first blood.

He was able to do this because we both made quick decisions about what we wanted to do. About eight or 10 moves later, the game had changed. Upshot: he captured my Rook and one of my pawns for Black. I captured one of his Knights (rendered with an N in chess notation) and one of his Bishops for White. As things stand now, I have a Bishop at a3—a position that places the empty squares nearest Black’s King under attack. The King can’t move, despite all that lovely empty space between the King and the Rook. Meanwhile, I have a pawn positioned to capture Black’s Knight unless Black moves the night. I’ve got an idea of what I want to do next, but it will take me four or five moves to launch my attack.  (I want to take that Black Knight. Those Knights are the only pieces that can jump other pieces and that makes them a threat to be removed.) Even then, there’s no guarantee my plan will work. In fact, I have to move a powerful piece deep into enemy territory to make my plan work.

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I challenge you—every single individual in the Sun Region—to a chess game. The stakes: a point for the winner and nothing for the loser. So if you live or work in Seal Beach, Rossmoor, Los Alamitos, Sunset Beach, Huntington Harbor, Belmont Shore, College Park Estates or Naples Island—the game is on.

Here’s how it works: We’ve set up a chessboard in the Sun Newspaper office at 216 Main St., Seal Beach. Since white goes first, I’ll play white. Come in any weekday except Tuesday and move a black chessman. When you move, flip over the card that says “White’s move.” When I move, I’ll flip the card that says “Black’s move.” The rules of the game are based on the rules of chess recognized by the US Chess Federation, an authority I arbitrarily pick because those rules should be available to anyone with Internet or library access. I’m not a member of the federation and I’ve never played in a chess tournament.

One of the rules I like needs to be mentioned early, because it may be part of my strategy: pawn promotion. Pawns can only move forward. If a pawn gets to the other side of the board, it may be promoted to any piece, including the queen. In theory, you could have nine queens against my queen.

As the game progresses, I’ll update this blog. I’ll include a graphic illustration to depict the game in progress. I’ll also need to use a simplified version of chess notations so novices and dabblers can join any avid players who want to join the game.

The vertical rows of a chessboard are identified by the letters A to H, starting with A on the left hand side of White. The horizontal rows are identified by numbers starting with 1 on White’s side of the board and ending with 8 on Black’s side.

I’ve planned my first five moves. I intend to “castle” as early as possible. Castling is the only time in the chess game when you can move two pieces in a single turn. I plan to move my king to the right when the time comes. First I have to get the bishop and the knight out of the way and I need to make sure my king hasn’t moved until it is time to castle. If you place one of the squares between my king and the nearest rook in “check,” I won’t be able to castle until I thwart your attack.

That said, here’s my first move: White King’s pawn moves from E2 to E4. I’ve moved the pawn two spaces forward of the king. Both the pawn and the king are exposed. That’s quite deliberate on my part. Your move.

Always a pleasure,
Charles

The longest and shortest sentences I ever read appeared in the sane book: “Watership Down.” The longest sentence went on for the better part of two or three pages, leaving me limp and exhausted by the time I had slogged my way to the period.

Yet it was a perfectly crafted sentence. It was punctuated correctly and it was grammatically correct. I even remember fragments of it decades later. Still, I prefer the shortest sentence in the book. It was the first sentence: “The primroses were over.”

Which brings me to the theme of this Sunday’s writing blog: the shorter your sentences, the better.

One of the goals of this blog is to help people write better columns, press releases and letters to the editor. Another goal is to simplify the work the editor and I do in assembling the Sun Newspaper and sunnews.org.

Encouraging people to write short sentences serves both those goals. It is easier for readers to read and remember information in short sentences. It is easier to write short sentences. You are less likely to run into complicated punctuation questions if you write short sentences.

How short? Ah, that’s a good question. Sadly, there’s no good answer. My personal rule of writing says that any sentence longer than 50 words should be reconsidered. Journalism writing style sometimes requires me to pack more information into a single sentence than I would like. Sometimes I bend the rules of journalism writing style in pursuit of clarity.

I also try to keep the first sentence in every article to 25 words or less. That doesn’t always work, but that’s the goal I set. I respectfully suggest you try something similar.

One of the nice things about the computer age is that you don’t need to waste paper re-writing whole sentences or paragraphs.

Another good rule is one I mentioned in my blog on bad press releases: Read your copy out loud. If a sentence sounds awkward to your ears, cut it down. If you have to pause for breath while reading the sentence, convert the information to two sentences.

Warning: snobs hate short sentences. Snobs maintain that only children write short sentences. Snobs like to criticize writers both professional and amateur for writing short sentences. Ignore them. Most snobs have never been published. Few published snobs have ever earned a living from writing.

The real test of good writing is this: did anyone read your article, poem or short story all the way to the end? Seriously. Back in journalism school, I was taught that 75 percent of my readers would only read the headline and then move on. Of the remaining 25 percent, only 75 percent would read beyond the first paragraph.

So keep your sentences short.

Always a pleasure,
Charles

It’s that time of year when Cub Scouts ask to take tours of the Sun Newspapers.

Tours are free. They are presently held only on the first three Fridays of each month, between 3 and 5 p.m. A prior appointment is required. No toddlers or infants, please. Also remind your scouts that this is a place of business. My co-workers have to do their jobs while I’m speaking to our guests.

There are no printing presses at this office.

To schedule an appointment, phone Assistant Editor Charles M. Kelly at (562) 430-7555.

Our office is located at 216 Main St., Seal Beach.