Friday, April 21, 2017

How to Win Fast Chess Games

By Josh
This time I'm going to talk about games with 1-5 minute timers. I hope you'll find this helpful!

Keep an eye on the clock at all times
This is a simple rule that can be the difference between winning and losing. Try to keep your timer higher then your opponents. If you don't then you can have yourself trying to make up for that time with bad moves.
navoj98 vs mathkid1
13. a3, Nc6 14. Nd5,  Nxd5 15. Bxd5, Qxb2 16. Bxc6, bxc6


  17. Rb1?, Qd4? (Both of us completely missed 17... Qxb3) 18. Qd2, c4 19 c3?, Qxd3 
 20. Qxd3, cxd3 (I was very content having won another pawn until to my horror I realized, I only had 4.3 seconds left! I was very panicked which led to bad things.) 21.Rbd1, Rad8 22. c4, f6?? (There it is. I had given my opponent 23.Ne6! putting a fork between my two rooks AND losing a rook would mean I'd lost the pawn on d3, so white would be better off!)
 23. Rf2? (White wanted to win on time!) 23... Bf7 24. Nxf7, 1-0 (Out of time.)

So, time can play a huge factor. A good thing to do is to:

Use opening traps
A personal favorite of mine is this:
1. e4, e5 2. Nf3, Nc6 3. Bc4, Nf6 4. Ng5, h6? 5. Nxf7
Creating a fork between the queen and the rook. This brings me to my final point:

Never Resign
This is a simple rule because of time. Their time can run out and you can still win.

I hope you find this helpful!

How to Play Chess

By Josh

Hello! If you are reading this, you have most likely have never played chess, and if you have then you have probably forgotten how to play chess. The game is simple. The game is played on a checkerboard. when set up properly, the board looks like this:
Let me tell you the names of the pieces

  • Pawn
  • Bishop
  • Knight
  • Rook
  • Queen
  • King
You go through the game taking turns, landing on your opponent's pieces to "capture" them (taking them off the board) and trying to "checkmate" the opponent's king (I will tell you about that later). You cannot land on your own pieces.
I will now walk you through how to move them

Pawn
The pawn can only move forward one space at a time. If the pawn has not moved yet it can move 1 or 2 spaces. The only way the pawn can capture pieces is diagonal. The pawn cannot ever move backwards, even while capturing a piece. If the pawn reaches the last square on the other side (what I mean is that it can't move forward anymore) it will "promote" which means you take the pawn off the board and in it's place put down a different piece (it can't be a king).

Bishop
The bishop can only go diagonal as far as you want and in any direction you want (like, backwards, but it still has to be diagonal). It cannot go over pieces. It captures the same way it moves, diagonal and then stopping at the place that the captured piece was at.

Knight
The knight is the weird piece. It only moves in an L-shape. 2 squares one way, and then 1 square left or right of that direction. This confuses some people, so I'll show you an example.
The knight is going to move two spaces to the left (our first direction), and one space down (or, left of the first left). The knight is the only piece that can jump over other pieces. It only captures by landing on the piece. The knight can't stop in the middle of the L to capture a piece.

Rook
The same movements as a bishop, but only vertically and horizontally.

Queen
The queen is like a bishop and rook COMBINED! It can go diagonal or straight (it can't do both in the same move)! 

King
The final piece, and the most important. It moves just like a queen, but only one square at a time. If the king is in check (it can be captured in the next move) then you must do one of 3 things,
  1. Capture the piece putting the king in danger
  2. Put a piece in between the attacker and your king
  3. Move the king away
If you can't do any of them then you have been checkmated (you have lost)! So, protect your king at all costs! You cannot put your own king in danger.

Piece Worth
Before you win a pawn and lose your queen, take a look at this chart to see what piece exchanges are worth your while.

Pawn is worth 1
Bishop is worth 3
Knight is worth 3
Rook is worth 5
Queen is worth 9
King is worth infinity

Sometimes, people will do "sacrifices" which lose pieces but give them something else in return.
I hope you found this helpful and happy chess playing!

Paper Airplanes

By Jeremiah the 6th grader

Paper airplanes are really fun once you get the hang of making them. Here are some simple instructions for 2 simple planes:

  1. Beginner's Plane
Step 1. Take a blank piece of paper
and fold it in half like so
Step 2. Unfold
(Make sure you can still see the first fold line)

Step 3.
Step 4. 
Step 5. Refold center fold
Step 6. Fold left wing
(make sure folded wings are level with bottom of fuselage)
Step 7. Fold right wing
Step 8. Flatten out wings
All are optional: add tape across center fold, and, or cut wind flaps on back of wings for tricks.

      2. Speedy Plane



Repeat steps 1-4
Step 1. Fold the left corner again like so
Step 2. Fold the right corner again like so
Repeat steps 5-8

P.S. I will put more planes later

Book Review on "To Kill a Mockingbird"

By Josh

At the beginning of the book, it was a bit dry for me. As I got farther through, I got more into it. I started reading bigger and bigger chunks of the book and before I knew it, the book was over! The book is about two kids that live in a small town during the Great Depression. Jean, the main character, is the younger of the two. A boy named Jem is her older brother. The are both children to Atticus Finch, who is a lawyer. During the summer, a boy named Dill comes and spends the summer with them before going away again. Their summers are mainly spent harassing Boo Radley, who spends all of his time indoors. It's a great book and worth reading all the way through even if it is dry reading for you. I can see why this book is known as a classic.

Friday, April 14, 2017

My History of Volunteering at the Food Pantry and Food Bank

By Josh

I started working at the food pantry when I was 8. Everybody there was at least 10 years older then I was. We were in Virginia at the time and I started volunteering at the food pantry at the Water's Edge Church. At the age of 9, I was put on the news because I was working at the food pantry at my age.
The volunteers at the food pantry
 Not much long after, we moved to Washington State. I started working at the food bank there. Unfortunately, I stopped after 2-3 weeks of volunteering at the food bank in Washington. The reason why was because I couldn't go on my own at that age, so my brothers would have to come too and they were too young. But now, at the age of 13, I have started volunteering again. This time, Mom, Jeremiah, Nathaniel and I are all volunteering by driving around and picking up donations for the food bank on Thursdays. Most of the stops are at Starbucks. The only place that we visit that is not Starbucks is an Auntie Anne's that usually gives us 25 pounds worth of food. All 25 pounds of it goes into a red backpack.
Us after two of the stops
You'll notice that I am the one carrying the red backpack. We are still volunteering every Thursday.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

LEGO Ideas

By Josh
This is an official LEGO website. What you basically do, is you build something, take a few pictures, and submit it. If it reaches 10,000 supporters, then it goes into LEGO review, where it will be reviewed by the people at LEGO to see if it will work as an official LEGO set. If it becomes a LEGO set, you will get 10 complimentary copies of the set and 1% of the net sales from the set (which is a lot, given how many people buy LEGO sets). You need to be 13 or older to join LEGO Ideas, but there is no fee to join. I think that this is a very cool website. Here is a picture of one I've submitted:
You can add almost anything! What I mean is if say, you want to do one for a new movie, they will need to make sure that they are licensed to use it. The link is here.

Friday, March 3, 2017

How to Collect Stamps

By Josh

Before you get to collecting, you will need a few things.
You will need:
  • A place to keep the stamps
  • Tweezers 
  • A large bowl
  • Hot water
  • A small towel
There are three ways to collect stamps:
  • The Water Bowl
  • The Collecting Store
  • The Post Office
Let's go through the three ways

1. The Water Bowl

This is if you get a letter in the mail and you want the stamp from it.
  1. Fill the large bowl with hot water
  2. Put the letter with the stamp in the water
  3. Wait a minute
  4. Grab the letter and put it on the towel
  5. VERY CAREFULLY use the tweezers to remove the stamp without tearing it
  6. Throw the letter in the garbage and let the stamp dry
  7. Once the stamp is dry add it to your collection
2. The Collecting Store

This is if you want to buy an/some old stamp/s
  1. Search for a collecting store in your area (we have found some at hooby lobby as well)
  2. If you can find one go to it
  3. In there you can most likely find stamps
  4. Buy the stamps you want to buy
If you can't find one or you don't feel like leaving home then you can always buy the stamps online.

3. The Post Office

This one needs no explanation. You literally go to the post office, find some stamps you want and buy them.

I hope this blog post helps and happy stamp collecting!