Atlantic City Christmas with Snow December 27, 2009Posted by Jennifer in : poker,travel , 1 comment so far
For the third year in a row, I spent a beautiful Jewish Christmas in Atlantic City. Piles of snow iced the beach and by the time we left, it was washed away by the rain. Every morning we ate greasy breakfasts at the hotel diner and on Christmas morning, 9 Queens was featured in the New York Times. I played just one poker tournament, a $40+12 at the Tropicana, where I lost AK to AT. The next night, I was trying to see how many free drinks I could acquire while placing just one minimum bet at Pai Gow. Somehow, this charade lasted long enough to distract me from entering the $10,000 guarantee at the Trop, which turned out to be a real EV bonanza with less than $7,000 (55 players, 125+25) in entry fees.
My dad was smart enough to play in the tournament and he got to the final table, at which point it seemed everyone wanted to chop based on their stacks. I pulled out my trusty G1 and did the math for the table(each chip was worth .0121212.) Nine players were ready to chop, but the final player, a medium stack refused the deal. I can’t really blame him as I probably wouldn’t have accepted such a deal. Play resumed, dad couldn’t get his chips in in a good spot, and so it goes.
Among the photos below are a shot of a snowman at the Atlantic City train station, and me reading Jokes for All Occasions (1921/22) by the fireplace of the Chelsea Hotel lobby. Most of the jokes were more interesting insights into the time than lol funny. The racist jokes were vicious. On the other hand, most of the jokes related to gender, money, adultery, jealousy or sex were so tame by modern standards that they would never register as jokes to us. Here’s one on poker which resonates since Americans are still the butt of many jokes on our inability to absorb certain worldwide standards of measurement:
Tommy Atkins and a doughboy sat in a poker game together somewhere in France. The Britisher held a full house, the American four of a kind. I’ll raise you 2 pounds, quoth the Yankee. Tommy didn’t hesitate, “I aint exactly onto your currency but I’ll bump it up 4 tons.”
Forever 29 suited and Beauty Queens Revisited December 19, 2009Posted by Jennifer in : books,chess,feminism,poker , 2 comments
Fake wind blew out my dyed and straightened red hair. My eyes were smokier than they’ve ever been as the photographer told me, “God wanted your hair to be curly.” Indeed, a lot of artifice went into my new website banner, but what did you expect, a drowsy everyday photo of me typing away?
A couple months ago, I was lucky enough to have a portrait session with Suzy Gorman, the same Saint Louis photographer who took glamour shots of participants at the US Women’s Championship. The Gorman photos and some resultant controversy on blogs and forums, reminded me of how difficult it was for me, four years ago, to write Chapter nine in Chess Bitch, European Divas. In the chapter I profiled Antoaneta Stefanova and Alexandra Kosteniuk, two beautiful and accomplished Grandmasters (Kosteniuk became Women’s World Champion and a GM since I wrote Chess Bitch) who took opposite approaches to publicity. Stefanova is very under the radar compared to her accomplishments, while Kosteniuk with few possible exceptions (Kasparov,Carlsen) is the most popular chess player in the world.
I pointed out the pitfalls of celebrating women chessplayers as pinups: It could penalize or scare women away who don’t fit into a certain standard of beauty, or who just don’t feel like posing for glamour photos. On the other hand, emphasizing beautiful chessplayers contradicts the nerdy image of chess that persists. Also, dressing up and posing is fun for many girls and women and attacking that head-on is not my brand of feminism. At the time of writing Chess Bitch, I was ambivalent about all these issues. However, I was sure about the chapter’s conclusion, a line too perfect to cut once conceived and also a great way to test whether my friends actually read Chess Bitch: “Journalists and fans don’t go around commenting on the size of Kasparov’s cock.”
Four years later, the negatives have faded (pun intended here as well). As long as sexy publicity campaigns are high quality and optional, I approve of them more as a journalist and artist than I disapprove as a feminist. Alexandra Kosteniuk said her new book, Diary of a Chess Queen, “It was the 2001 World Championship that made me understand how important it was to work constantly with the press; and since that time I have given a lot of attention to photo shoots and my off-the-board activities. The popularity of chess during the Fischer, Karpov and Kasparov eras can be explained by the outsized personalities of those grandmasters. People who do not play chess aren’t very interested in what novelty Grandmaster N employed on move 40 of the Petroff’s Defense…”
During my own photo session, Bjork was playing, and I found when looking over the photos later, my favorite portraits were those that seemed to be less mimicking sexy face and more like me, or at the very least more like Bjork. For my new website theme I had to jump at the chance to be forever 29 suited. Some of the other photos are too risqué for me to post here, but I do have a new poker/chess themed twitter page and I also added two new galleries on my photos page, on roulette chess and hula chess.
On the subject of the Women’s World Champion, I’m grateful that Grandmaster Alexandra Kosteniuk decided to do her Christmas Goodwill simultaneous in Tucson. When I saw this offer on Kosteniuk’s blog, I knew that Jean and the Tucson 9queens Academy would be a wonderful venue for Kosteniuk. Look for upcoming photos and details of the event on the 9queens blog, Chess Life Online and Kosteniuk’s various websites, including twitter.
I hope everyone has a very happy holiday and if you’re looking for a place to give, please consider donating any amount to 9queens, or read Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristoff and Sheryl WuDunn for more ideas.