Benefits of Concentrating on Chess

July 11th, 2016 by Nathaniel Coleman AKA Jonathan Whitcomb No comments »

By Jonathan Whitcomb, chess coach in the Salt Lake Valley of Utah

It’s no secret that focusing on a game of chess is mental exercise, although deeply competitive players rarely think about that during a game. It’s been said that two old men playing chess can wear out two pairs of pants, notwithstanding. But using your head in the royal game—that can win you advantages beyond any chess trophy.

I’m a chess tutor living in Murray, Utah, and writing on many blogs on several subjects, one of which is chess. I gained a passionate interest in the game when I was but thirteen, when John F. Kennedy was president (for those interested in ancient history). In more recent years, I noticed an interesting benefit to playing chess.

I was the organist for my ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Bixby Knolls neighborhood of Long Beach, California. For prelude music I improvised from musical themes in the hymns, a practice common at the time of Johann Sebastian Bach but becoming rare with modern church organists.

Then I had a vigorous day of chess one Saturday and found that the improvising came a bit easier on the organ the next day. I tried again, concentrating on chess on another Saturday and finding organ playing easier on the next day. Yet what first caught my attention was not the improvising, which was only a bit better: I made fewer errors in accompanying the congregational hymn singing, and for me that was markedly better.

If this were only about one chess-playing church organist, some people could refuse to sing along, doubting that an old board game could make anybody smarter. But many experiments, over many years, have confirmed that concentrating on chess can improve thinking in ways that help students do better in school. And if kids can benefit from concentrating on the royal game, doing better in school subjects, an old man like me, wearing out a pair of pants, can benefit as well.

The FIDE, the international organization for chess, has done studies on how various European countries have promoted chess-playing in schools. Here’s one page of their report:

Survey of chess activities in various nations in Europe


Private Chess Lessons in Utah (by Jonathan Whitcomb)

For those living in or near the Salt Lake Valley in Utah, I am offering chess tutoring in private and group sessions ($25 per one-hour lesson). The first session is a free introductory meeting. It allows you to get to know how I teach and I can make a preliminary assessment of where you stand in chess-playing abilities. I can drive to your home or to a public park or library convenient to both of us (I live in Murray).

Feel free to call me at 801-590-9692 or contact me through email.

I’m a member, in good standing, of the Unites States Chess Federation.


Two men play a game of chess




Chess in Holladay, Utah

At least when school is in session, the royal game does not take a holiday [in Holladay, Utah] . . . Chess instructor Jonathan Whitcomb, who photographed the 2016 championship, is now promoting activity in the game during the summer months, offering both a free tournament and $25 private chess lessons.

Chess Tutor in Salt Lake Valley

The following are schools in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, that have chess clubs during their school years. This is not portrayed as a complete listing . . .

Chess Lessons in Utah

Chess Coach Jonathan Whitcomb, of Murray, Utah (author of the book Beat That Kid in Chess), offers private and group lessons in the Salt Lake Valley. . . . he is available for a free introductory chess instruction session for home-school families.


How Did Bobby Fischer do it?

October 30th, 2015 by Nathaniel Coleman AKA Jonathan Whitcomb No comments »

What was the greatest chess accomplishment of Robert J. Fischer? Not winning the World Chess Championship in 1972, according to some authorities, becoming the first American to hold that title. It was in sweeping two matches in a row against two of the top grandmasters in the world, in 1971:

  • 6-0 against Mark Taimanov
  • 6-0 against Bent Larsen

That’s twelve wins, no loses, no draws. Never before or since has a grandmaster attained such a one-sided victory against two top-level grandmasters. Indeed, Taimanov and Larsen were playing Fischer in those two matches because they had qualified for the challenging contests leading to the world championship match. Few grandmasters reach that level of achievement, to play in those matches. But what other chess player accomplished what Bobby Fischer did: Winning twelve games out of twelve against such strong grandmasters?

How can the non-chess player understand the magnitude of Fischer’s accomplishment in those two matches? It’s like a major league pitcher playing two complete games in a World Series, both games pitched perfectly: no hits, no runs, no walks.

World Chess Champion Robert James Fischer

Chess Book Written by Fischer

My 60 Memorable Games was written by Robert J. Fischer, in contrast to the book Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess, which was not. The 2009 edition of My 60 Memorable Games was ranked #20 in chess books sold on Amazon (October 30, 2015). Although the life of this World Chess Champion, away from the board, has been controversial, the Amazon customer reviews for his book have given it very high praises, with 93% giving it five or four stars. The combined total of one and two stars comes to only 6%.

Chess Book Written About Him

Searching for Bobby Fischer, by Fred Waitzkin, has also been highly praised, also with 93% of the Amazon reader-reviewers giving it five or four stars. That book was made into a movie of the same title.



Best Chess Book for a Beginner

“This is a book for the raw beginner” who knows the rules of chess but not much else.

Robert James Fischer

At age 20, Fischer won the 1963–64 U.S. Championship with 11/11, the only perfect score in the history of the tournament. . . . In 1972, he captured the World Chess Championship from Boris Spassky of the USSR . . .

Beginner Chess Book

Many chess competitors would find Beat That Kid in Chess too elementary . . . Yet how many persons know the rules of chess but have hardly a clue about how to play well!


Dinosaurs and Blind Dates

April 15th, 2015 by Jonathan Whitcomb No comments »

For several generations, many scientists in Western countries have assumed that all dinosaurs became extinct by many millions of years ago. Some non-scientists have assumed the ancient dates were obtained by directly testing those old dinosaur bones, but a new investigation has shattered that myth.

Modern carbon-14 dating of samples of bones from eight dinosaurs (fossils excavated in Texas, Alaska, Colorado, and Montana) revealed shocking ages when those animals actually lived on the earth: only about 22,000 to 39,000 years ago.

It came to light at the Western Pacific Geophysics Meeting in Singapore, held August 13-17, 2012, a conference of the American Geophysical Union and the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society.

Carbon-14 dating shows dinosaurs lived recently

Dr. Thomas Seiler, a physicist from Germany, gave the presentation for the Paleochronology group, using data from years of investigating and sending samples to Carbon-14 labs for testing.

The dinosaurs tested included Acrocanthosaurus, Allosaurus, Hadrosaurus, Triceratops, and Apatosaur. The findings were so shocking that two chairpersons later deleted the lecture abstract, without prior warning, from the official web site of the conference.



Dinosaur Bones Less Than 40,000 Years Old

Since dinosaurs are thought to be over 65 million years old, the news is stunning – and more than some can tolerate. After the AOGS-AGU conference in Singapore, the abstract was removed from the conference website by two chairmen because they could not accept the findings.

Carbon-14 Dinosaur Dating

Radiocarbon dating is the most accurate and most verifiable of the radiometric dating systems. Dates for carbon material can often be independently verified by testing something that is known historically, from records of human observations.

Scientific Dating and Young Dinosaurs

A number of pieces of dinosaur bones found in North American have been dated in recent years. So how many millions of years old are those fossils? Well, they’re not actually that old, apparently, dated at tens of thousands of years old, according to carbon-14 testing.


Bioluminescent Pterosaur and Humboldt Squid

August 22nd, 2013 by Nathaniel Coleman AKA Jonathan Whitcomb No comments »

The living-pterosaur expert Jonathan Whitcomb has compared the bioluminescence of a large squid to the mysterious Marfa Lights of Texas. Nobody doubts that the Humboldt squid is real, a glowing predator of the eastern Pacific Ocean. But Whitcomb seems to have only a comparatively few followers in his belief that the flying lights of southwest Texas are bioluminescent pterosaurs.

He uses passages from the book Hunting Marfa Lights, by James Bunnell, in promoting the concept of nocturnal flying predators, but Bunnell makes no mention of that idea in his book.

Maybe the best point in Whitcomb’s favor is that no scientist, not even Mr. Bunnell, seems to have come up with a better explanation for the strangest types of Marfa Lights, the ones that sometimes split up into two lights, separate, and later reunite. Local residents around Marfa, Texas, often mention the intelligence that those lights seem to possess, another point in Whitcomb’s favor.

He brings up the huge squid as an example of how a group of intelligent glowing predators can use their brightness to catch prey. He also brings up eyewitness reports from citizens of Texas who send him emails about apparent pterosaurs flying overhead.

But until somebody captures a pterodactyl in a desert of southwest Texas, the idea that a group of glowing predators are swooping out of the sky at night, to catch bats and rabbits, may be a theory that flies too far out of reach for most people to believe, at least for city people who have never seen those flying lights.

Marfa Lights and Bioluminescence

Only about 3% of unusual lights around Marfa, Texas, are truly mysterious. But those rare lights—how extraordinary!

Marfa Lights

A new explanation for the mysterious flying Marfa Lights comes from a strange source: a cryptozoologist in California, who writes nonfiction books about modern living pterosaurs. Jonathan Whitcomb, of Long Beach, CA, wrote a press release.

New Word for the old Marriage

June 29th, 2013 by Nathaniel Coleman AKA Jonathan Whitcomb No comments »

A nonfiction author in Long Beach, California, has introduced a new word for the husband-wife relationship: “adahmeve” (pronounced ah-‘dahm-eev). Jonathan Whitcomb explains that recent government actions in the United States have effectively changed the meaning of the word “marriage,” leaving his society without a word for the union of husband and wife. On June 28, 2013, the same day that same-gender marriages began to be licensed in California, Whitcomb introduced “adahmeve” to allow that ancient relationship of husband-wife to continue to have a name.

Two days earlier, The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled that the group of private individuals (who were trying to save Proposition 8) did not have the authority to bring up the matter before them. Although a majority of Californians had voted to keep marriage between a husband and wife, elected officials in that state fought against Proposition 8. The normal procedure for an American state in defending a state law in the U.S. Federal Supreme Court is for the governor or his representative to defend it. The Californian governor refused to do so, apparently leaving no possible person or persons who could authoritatively represent the case in the Supreme Court. The vote in Washington was deeply divided: 5-4.

Andy Pugno, Proposition-8 General Counsel in the case, announced on June 28th, “We just received word that the Ninth Circuit, without waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision to become final and depriving us of our right to ask for reconsideration, has rushed forward to order same-sex marriage licenses. This outrageous act of judicial tyranny tops off a chronic pattern of lawlessness, throughout this case, by judges and politicians hell-bent on thwarting the vote of the people to redefine marriage by any means, even outright corruption.

Whitcomb suggests that the case illustrates a disturbing weakness in American government. A corrupt governor may combine efforts with one corrupt judge to nullify the vote of millions of the people by making it impossible for a case to be judged by the United States Supreme Court. In this case, according to Whitcomb, the husband-wife relationship no longer has a name specific to itself, unless a new word becomes popular as a replacement. He suggests “adahmeve.”

a young husband and wife hold their new-born baby girl


Benefits of Piano Lessons for Kids

June 27th, 2013 by Nathaniel Coleman AKA Jonathan Whitcomb No comments »

New studies on brain activities demonstrate that musicians are mentally highly developed. Those who concentrate on music performance are more alert and have more desire to learn in general.

That kind of mental development helps a person to see the whole picture. Similar abilities have been found in top athletes, the best managers, and those who use transcendental meditation.

Summer Break and Piano Lessons for Children

When kids start their summer break from school—that may be a good time to begin piano lessons. Children need mental activities, not just running around outside. Without school studies, exercising those little brains can be challenging. Piano lessons provide the opportunity for youngsters to develop musical talent between outdoor play activities.

Piano and Chess Lessons in Child Care

A parent is lucky to find a piano teacher for less than $25 per half-hour lesson; some charge more. This could come to $1000 per year or even more, just for the lesson charges, not counting transportation if its done at the teacher’s home or at a studio.

Musician’s Brains Highly Developed

The researchers measure mind brain development in several ways. EEGs reveal special patterns in the electrical activity of the brain in people with high mind brain development. They have well‑coordinated frontal lobes.

Hollywood Pterodactyls, for Real?

June 20th, 2013 by Nathaniel Coleman AKA Jonathan Whitcomb No comments »

In a Jurassic Park film, we expect to see dinosaurs and pterodactyls alive, but a few miles east of Hollywood? The two eyewitnesses did not actually use the word “dinosaur” or “pterodactyl,” but one of them said “dragons” and the other, “pterosaur.”

Griffith Park Pterosaurs

The lady driving northbound on the I-5, at 6:10 a.m. on March 3, 2013, was not sure that the three flying creatures gliding over the freeway had no feathers (the sighting was too quick), but she was sure that they were not birds. Each of the three had a distinct narrow neck between head and body. She also reported that “their tails had triangular points.” She was positive that the proportions between head, body, and tail were “certainly not that of a bird.” The sighting was on the east side of Griffith Park.

Ten weeks later, Devin Rhodriquez was driving northbound on the I-5, at about 4:00 p.m., on May 13, 2013, when she saw something that reminded her of a pterosaur. She was so caught up in the strange head that she did not notice if the creature had a tail or not. It was the head crest and lack of feathers that shocked her. She reported, “I’m almost positive what I saw fly over the freeway in Los Angeles WAS NOT a bird of any kind.” That sighting was also on the east side of Griffith Park.

A bit of the rugged terrain in Griffith Park - Los Angeles, California - photograph by Kilgub

Griffith Park in Los Angeles, California – One of the largest city parks in North America


Pterosaur Sightings East of Griffith Park

In two separate sightings, two eyewitnesses in Los Angeles, California, reported flying creatures described like pterosaurs. The sightings were a little over a mile apart, both from drivers on the northbound Interstate-5 Freeway, just east of Griffith Park, near Glendale.

Dragons or Pterosaurs Over Interstate-5

The March 3rd eyewitness was given a survey form with the silhouettes of dozens of winged creatures, from modern birds and bats to pterosaurs of different species. She choose #13, which was the Sordes Pilosus, a Rhamphorhynchoidea type of pterosaur.

Perching Pterosaur, not Woodpecker

It relates to the May 13th sighting this year, a little southeast of Griffith Park. The animal was called a pterosaur by the eyewitness and she said that it had no feathers but it did have a head crest.


Beetle Banquet?

May 13th, 2013 by Nathaniel Coleman AKA Jonathan Whitcomb No comments »

According to a United Nation report, we would be better off eating insects, at least for part of our diet. The main point is that it could reduce world hunger and pollution, assuming we would use less traditional meat, as from cattle and pigs.

The report says that caterpillars have about the same amount of protein as minced beef but ten times more iron. Grasshoppers and dung beetles also have more iron than beef, but not many Westerners are likely to soon begin feasting on beetles that eat poop.

A young lady begins to put a dead tarantula into her mouth. Insects are eaten by people in some places in the world.

Tantalizing tarantula (courtesy of BBC news)


U.N urges people to eat insects 

It notes than over 2 billion people worldwide already supplement their diet with insects.

However it admits that “consumer disgust” remains a large barrier in many Western countries.


Do jumping fish look like flying pterosaurs?

A critic has suggested that many stories of extant pterosaurs flying overhead come from misidentifications of large Manta ray fishes that are jumping out of the sea.

What about the 1965 sighting by Patty Carson? This was close to the sea, at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. But the “dinosaur” that Patty and her brother watched on one particular day was sitting upright in tall grass before it flapped its wings and flew away. Manta ray fish don’t do that.


Live Pterodactyl April Fool’s Joke?

April 1st, 2013 by Nathaniel Coleman AKA Jonathan Whitcomb No comments »

A press release dated March 30, 2013 (Saturday) would be expected to be noticed on Monday, April 1, 2013. With a title of “Modern Pterodactyls and Religion,” it looks like it may be an April Fool’s joke. Look again. It’s one of many news releases published over several years, about living pterosaurs, and the release dates are scattered over the calendar, not just around April 1st.

Pterosaur sighting research is still not as popular as investigating of Bigfoot encounters, but it’s catching up. The following is just a sampling of press releases related to pterosaur sightings:

Two Dragon Hunters in Southern California

Recounts the expeditions of two residents of California: Garth Guessman and Jonathan Whitcomb, who have been searching for modern pterosaurs and interviewing eyewitnesses for ten years

Not all Biology Professors Fight Modern Flying Dinosaurs

It seems most biology professors prefer to keep out of a fight, but a very few of them almost take sides with what non-professors might call “flying dinosaurs” – This release deserves a quotation:

A recent survey of biology professors in the USA reveals not all of them are completely convinced that all species of pterosaurs became extinct by 65 million years ago. Although less than 2% of the professors replied to the survey, the response to the question of the possibility of modern living pterosaurs ranged from 0% to 5%, averaging 1.5%.

Live Pterosaur in Georgia

Jonathan Whitcomb reports pterosaur sightings in Winder, Georgia, and in Towns County of that state and compares the flying creatures to the one reported to have been observed in Cuba many years ago, at Guantanamo Bay.

Pterosaurs Alive in Australia

This release includes a brief account of a lady in Queensland, Australia, who was with her thirteen-year-old daughter when they encountered a huge flying creature.


Pterosaur Sightings in Arkansas and Missouri

My father and I saw a Huge, featherless bird in Arkansas . . . We were sitting on big rocks at a cliff about 300 foot above the river when it flew out just under us and we watched it all the way down toward the river . . . [It had a] wing span of maybe 8 ft and had a large head.

Are they still with us?

November 10th, 2012 by Nathaniel Coleman AKA Jonathan Whitcomb No comments »

Have you ever reminisced on a person who was famous decades ago? Is that celebrity still alive?

Consider the following and take the test, answering who the person is (or was) and the status: living or deceased. If you believe the person passed away, guess the death year. Test yourself.

Does someone look familiar, but you can’t quite get the name? Hints are found near the bottom of this post; answers, at the bottom.


1) Who is she? (still living?)

famous person number one


2) Who is he? (still with us?)

famous person number two


3) Who is this lady? (still living?)

famous person number three


4) Who is this man? (still here?)

famous person number four


5) Who is he? (still here?)

famous person #5


This is a placeholder, so you don’t accidentally scroll down to the hints or the answers before you’re ready. Anyway, how can anybody get rid of him?

cartoon character Bugs Bunny



A young lady, innocent of the crime for which she is about to be hanged, stands dejected high up on a platform above a crowd. Nothing is above her and her executioner but the heavens. But she is rescued by a man who does not use a ladder to get up to the platform. He uses something to get down to her, knocking over the ladder and executioner in the process. The young lady is rescued, but no lady in that city would think of kissing the hero who rescued her. Does that ring a bell?


“Laugh and be happy, and the world will laugh with you.

When people see you smiling, they can’t help smiling too.”

If you remember when this sheriff first began to be famous, you’ve put a lot of candles on a lot of birthday cakes.


She was the leader of one of the largest countries in the world and had the same last name as an even more famous person of that same country. But those two leaders were not closely related. They died in somewhat similar ways: not a normal way of passing.


As American as mashed potatoes.


Since he was a small child, he concentrated on one field of competition. Some persons might think he had a checkered career. Anyway, during the Cold War, he was a pain to the Russians in proving they were not invincible.


Another placeholder – Are you sure you’re ready for the answers?

cartoon character Mickey Mouse


1) Maureen O’Hara (born 17 August 1920) – She is the only one of these five who is still with us (at least as of September of 2012). This actress played Esmeralda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939) with Charles Laughton.

2) Sheriff John was played on KTTV television by John Rovick (October 2, 1919, Dayton, Ohio – October 6, 2012) from 1952, one of the early children’s programs. We’ll always keep a candle burning in our hearts for him.

3) Indira Ghandi was the third Prime Minister of India, who served for three consecutive terms (1966–77) and a fourth term (1980–84). She was not closely related to Mahatma Ghandi. Both leaders were assasinated.

4) Harry Morgan (April 10, 1915 – December 7, 2011) is remembered by many as Colonel Sherman T. Potter in the M*A*S*H television show. For those who memories go back further, he was Officer Bill Gannon on Dragnet (1967–1970).

5) Robert James “Bobby” Fischer (March 9, 1943 – January 17, 2008) was the first American to win the World Chess Championship, defeating Boris Spassky of the USSR in 1972, in a 21-game match (although only twenty games were actually played). But Fischer’s best performances in 1972 were not in the world championship match: They were in the Candidates matches against two of the top grandmasters in the world, Mark Taimanov and Bent Larsen. Fischer eliminated both of them with perfect scores of 6–0, an accomplishment never equaled before or since in chess history. Until that time, perhaps no chess expert had even dreamed that any top-ranked grandmaster could be defeated 6-0, even against a world champion. When Fischer was hot, he was astonishing.


Chess Finesse

As white, your pawn has been advancing up the board. What is your best move in this position?

Pterosaurs are not Manta rays

The “pterodactyl” flew up over the jungle canopy and within a minute or so . . . It had a tail “at least” ten or fifteen feet long. It also had a long neck and a long appendage, horn-like, coming out of the back of the creature’s head.