Prescott Chess Club Quads #3 Sunday, Feb 22 2015 

The Prescott Quads #3 attracted 17 area chess players for a United States Chess Federation rated chess tournament at Yavapai College on Saturday, February 21. The tournament was divided into four groups based on rating.

Jeff Hardin

Jeff Hardin

In Section A, Candidate Master Jeff Hardin, Prescott, took first place and won $50 for his 2.5-0.5 record. Candidate Master James Briggs, Chino Valley, finished second with a 1.5-1.5 record. His only loss was to Hardin. He drew Justin Friedlander, an eight-year-old from Scottsdale, who is the 14th best player in the United States for his age. Justin, a 3rd grader at Sonoran Sky in Scottsdale, was one of two Arizona chess players to represent the United States in the 2014 World Youth Chess Championship in Durban, South Africa.

 

Benjamin Friedlander

Benjamin Friedlander

In Section B, Benjamin Friedlander, Justin’s 10-year-old brother, won the $50 first place prize money for his 2-1 record. Benjamin is a 5th grader at Sonoran Sky and ranked 83rd in his age group. Dr. Henry Ebarb, the Arizona State Champion age 70+, and Andrew Malone, playing in his first rated chess tournament, tied for 2nd place in the section with 1.5-1.5 records. They split the $25 prize money. Friedlander and Ebarb are both Class B rated chess players.

 

Thomas Keenan

Thomas Keenan

In Section C, Dr. Thomas Keenan, a Class C player, finished first and won $50. Keenan, with a 3-0 score, was the tournament’s only undefeated player. Abhinev Thakur, Bagdad, played in his first rated tournament and captured the 2nd place prize money with his 2-1 record.

 

Phillip Ebarb

Phillip Ebarb

In Section D, Phillip Ebarb and Samuel Ebarb split the $75 prize money with their 3-1 records.

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Renaissance Festival 2015 Tuesday, Feb 17 2015 

Tartanic Combustible Bagpipes & Drums

Tartanic Combustible Bagpipes & Drums

The weather was perfect for visiting the 27th Annual Arizona Renaissance Festival & Artisan Marketplace. Paying only half the regular entrance fee (using a coupon given us at the site by someone in line) made the outing more affordable, too. For our third visit we did more planning which led to efficiently attending more entertainment acts. Our day started by securing front row seats for the Dead Bob Sho. This was one of several programs identified by LC which means “Loose Cannon” and parental guidance suggested. Lots of puns and raucous humor. Before the show started we interacted with a woman feasting on a turkey drumstick. She reacted well when Dead Bob teased her. We moved back a row to be in the shade for the following act, the Tortuga Twins and their Robin Hood routine. Three male performers called upon four audience members to tell the story with a bit of sexual innuendo. An audience member wearing a skeleton mask caught my eye. We then made our way to the Palace Theatre to listen to a performance of Cast in Bronze, an act we had previously attended, where the hooded musician plans four tons of carillon bells. A young girl whose face was artistically painted sat in the front row to our left. We took a break for lunch ordering a Taco Salad and a Chicken Flauta Platter at the Queen’s Kitchen. After lunch we found our way to the Middleshire Stage where we were again left tongue-tied listening to the rapid fire spoonerisms of Zilch the Torysteller. He is amazing as he retells Romeo and Juliet! This was followed by Tartanic – Combustible Bagpipes and Drums. A “wench” made an unexpected appearance and the band incorporated her presence by raising the heat level. Two additional women who are part of the Tartanic act made their presence known, one erotically dancing on stage, the other by uplifting the group’s wares from underwear to compact discs. Beaded strands of the drummer’s beard alo caught our attention. Things cooled off with the silly songs of counseling by Hey Nunnie Nunnie. My wife, a graduate of parochial schools, provided a segue for an introduction of a ruler. We then moved to the Fairhaven Theatre where the London Broil was taking requests from the audience for their team juggling. This was our last favorite act of the day. Barely Balanced, the following act, left us in awe at their prowess. The big guy is incredibly strong. The medium guy and his wife made for a great tea, one might even say well balanced. We made general tour of the grounds where I took an interesting picture of a camel’s head. We observed that there appear to be more shops selling clothing. I’m always left speechless when I see prices such as $395 for a full length male coat. We finished our day by visiting the Falconer’s Heath for the Art of Falconry show. In addition to a falcon, an owl and a couple of varieties of buzzards were on display. The Renaissance Festival runs through March 29th and is worth a visit.

Five Presidents Sunday, Feb 15 2015 

My first play at the Herberger Theater, Five Presidents, was appropriately enough on Presidents’ Day weekend. The play’s writer, Rick Cleveland, has written several television series that we have enjoyed including Six Feet Under, Mad Men, and House  of Cards. We are currently ready to begin season 4 (of 7) of his Emmy winning tv show The West Wing. The play, Five Presidents, is set on April 27, 1994 when the five living Presidents gather in a conference room within the Nixon Library in Yorba Linda, California waiting for the start of Richard Nixon’s funeral. Cleveland wrote witty speculation about what may have happened at this true-life event. The professional actors are masterful in providing multi-layered and nuanced performances of Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bill Clinton. The simple set is used dynamically by having the characters shift from one chair to another among the five chairs at two separate tables. The writer injects the last minute decision of Ford declining to eulogize Nixon as the backdrop for much of the political dialogue. The tensions between Bush and Reagan and Bush and Clinton were well done. Presenting Reagan’s Alzheimer’s so strongly was scary to me and may be criticized by those who still idolize this man who stopped the release of Iranian hostages until 20 minutes after his inauguration and within weeks thereafter became enmeshed in the Iran-Contra deal. For me 90 minutes passed very quickly by raising issues important in their day and foreshadowing future developments for this country. The play continues in Phoenix through February 22nd. It’s worth seeing.

Oscar Shorts Live Action Sunday, Feb 8 2015 

Although we have only seen two of the eight films nominated for Best Picture, we have seen all five of the Oscar Shorts Live Action nominees. On Friday evening we took advantage of the showing of these films as part of the Prescott Film Festival at Yavapai College. This is their third year showing Oscar nominated films. The large screen and excellent sound system enhanced the experience.

“Parnaneh” tells the story of an Afghan girl not yet 18 living in a Swiss refugee center who travels to Zurich to wire money home for a sick father. Because she is under age, she seeks help from Emily, a young punk woman. A friendship develops during the course of being together for a day.

“Butter Lamp” is literally a series of snapshots of Tibetan nomads in front of backdrops featuring Tienanmen Square, the Great Wall of China, and the 2008 Beijing Olympic Stadium. I was touched by the elderly woman who wouldn’t stop prostrating herself before the Potala Palace backdrop until the photographer changed her backdrop to a palm tree on a beach. At the end of the film the backdrops are removed revealing the construction of high speed rail through the Himalayas.

In “The Phone Call” we listen to Heather, an empathetic  young woman working for a United Kingdom crisis center, who takes a call from Stan, a suicidal older widower.

“Aya,” the longest of the shorts, tells the story of a young Israeli woman who is mistakenly assumed to be the chauffeur to pick up a Danish music critic at an airport. An intimate bond forms during a long drive.

“Boogaloo and Graham,” the names Irish lads Jamesy and Malachy assign chicks given to them by their father, mixes lightheartedness with the poignancy of Belfast in 1978. The boys vow to become vegetarians as they nurture the chicks to adulthood. With mom’s pregnancy it looks like the chickens may no longer have a home. Ironically, they are saved by producing their own egg.

Each film has merit. It will be interesting to learn which one is selected by the Academy as the best Oscar Shorts Live Action.