Chess: The next generation

The gifted and talented program for my 5th grade son (1hr on Fridays) has taught him chess.  We played a couple of games in which I would go easy on him and then win.  The third of these games he starts crying.  I explain that I’ve been playing chess 30 years more than he has and that he should not expect to win a single game against me this year.  Which he took as a challenge to beat me before his 12th birthday.

I was trying to get him to quit playing chess games and to try something different.  Pawns only games. 2 Rooks vs King. 3 pawns vs 2 pawns. Something with chess basics, but simplified.  He’s actually started asking for drills.  He’s started asking to play the weak side of the drill so he could figure out what to try different.

We also play Fischer random chess.

As we play I point out mistakes of his and let him take moves back.  Sometimes he’ll take a long time to move and then say “I don’t see anything to do” and I’ll break down the pros and cons of 2 or 3 different options.  Sometimes I get sloppy and lose a piece.  Sometimes that happens late in the game. 3 days ago it happened and I couldn’t recover and he won the game.  I did my best to be a gracious loser.  To not make excuses.  To not express my frustration with myself (especially not as anger with him).

2 days ago we played again. “Do you think I’m going to win again this time?” he asked.

“No. I’m going to focus and play hard and crush you. When you won it hurt me a little in the feelings, and this game will be rough for you.”

And I did.

And he was trying not to cry when I made him shake hands and told him it was a good game.  Then we played some drills where we would see how many moves it takes him to mate K+Q vs K… and he relaxed and enjoyed himself.

Power Plant Basics: The Steam Cycle

This is a better place to start than condensate and feed.

For some reason I don’t understand I get the nerves about posting these, so I’m telling myself that they are all rough drafts and I as I get better at the software and pacing I’ll come back and do a better version.

That being said the learning cycle has to be closed for any significant improvement to be made.  This means a product must be finished, and then examined for what parts of it are good and what parts are weak, and how the strong parts were executed, and how the weak parts can be improved.

*This is why all great architects do their great work so late in life:  The learning cycle is often 10 years from first concept to finished product to incorporate feedback.

One of the things necessary for this to work is time to become less attached to the product.  Another important ingredient is feedback (and the creator being receptive to that feedback while knowing when to ignore it and stick to the vision).

So here it is.


My intended audience is junior power plant operators who have been around valves and pumps and equipment before, but lack a big picture of how the parts are supposed to fit together.