Tuesday, January 31, 2006

More Wiki Wars

If you have the energy to read another one of these Wikpedia fights, this one is fairly entertaining (and chess related). Slugfest's Clint Ballard tried to publish an article on his new chess tournament scoring system, BAP. Little did he know what he was in for.

Blundering is a sin

From "Adam made imperfect choice in opting to commit his sin" in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel:
Q. Considering that a truly perfect chess player would be incapable of making a bad move, and likewise a truly perfect singer would be incapable of hitting a sour note, then how could a truly perfect man such as Adam be capable of committing sin? That Adam chose to disobey God indicates a character flaw in his design.

A. Unfortunately, it is your hypothesis that is flawed. There has been no such thing as a perfect anything since the fall of Adam and Eve. With sin came imperfection. Even the best chess player cannot perform 100 percent of the time at 100 percent accuracy.
So whenever I play badly apparently I have Adam to blame. Now, how does one become a born-again chess player?

Monday, January 30, 2006

Passionate about chess?

Now that Dennis Monokroussos has defanged his own surprise weapon against the French Defense, you're probably looking for something new to keep your opponents on edge. How about the French Kiss? Against the right opponent (a particularly attractive one I presume), it could be just the ticket.

Field of Play

Link

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Dude, where's my former president?

While he hasn't been to the club in a couple of years, I usually run into former BCC President Peter Sherwood every few months or so. However, as of late he's been nowhere to be found.

Just yesterday, I learned through a mutual acquaintance that Peter has moved to California for a year. Mystery solved.

Ringer wanted

Maybe you can help out Mistress Kathryn in her quest to find someone to humble her boyfriend at chess?

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Negro y Blanco Cinema

...so in Two Weeks Notice there's this part where Hugh Grant and another guy are playing chess and they start discussing how women aren't like a chess game. Apparently there are no rules, women follow no set patterns, and men always lose.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Out of your chess mind

Denny Shane perseveres through another VA group therapy session:

...another guy spoke up about how he gets angry when his kids beat him at chess.... "My kids always beat me at chess and I am really getting angry", the guy stammered. Geez guy... how about learning how to play?

Freebie Friday

It's not usually my policy to post promotional items I receive from chess related businesses (although I have done so in the past on rare occasions). Nevertheless, I know that many readers play chess online and like to try out different servers. So, with that in mind and with the fact that this offer will not cost you anything, here goes:

World Chess Network is offering "Free Chess Fridays." Each and every Friday, log in as a guest and receive all the benefits of Gold Membership for the entire day for free.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Caption Contest V

New Zealand junior Bobby Cheng's favorite movie?
The Fantastic Four (especially after he discovered
that he too could stretch his arm across the entire
length of the chess board)


Post your caption in the comments.

Source

More drinking chess

From The Daily Iowan Police Blotter:
Lindsay Chess, 18, 324 S. Lucas St., was charged Monday. with PAULA.
It took me a few minutes of searching to find out what PAULA is --
Possession of Alcohol Under the Legal Age.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Year That Was

Some interesting facts posted on the bulletin board at the club:
  • 188 people were members of the Boylston Chess Foundation for some period of time during 2005

  • 306 different players entered at least one of the more than 140 events held at the club last year

  • In total for 2005, 376 people were members or non-members who played in at least one event

Chess and Choir revisited

Margriet will find this item from the Judit Polgar Fan Club interesting. Little did I realize that the Princess Errant is able to pursue both of her passions while in Wijk Aan Zee.

A Pro-Chess Mall

Those upstate New Yorkers who got thrown out of their local mall's food court for playing chess might want to head over to the Crossroads Mall in Bellevue, Washington.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Leave us out of it

[Utah State Senator Chris] Buttars ... spoke about his ... bill, which would ban gay-straight alliances from Utah high schools. He said he has received many e-mails referring to him as "[a] bigot" and "narrow-minded" because he thinks the clubs are inappropriate because they involve "human sexuality," even though club proponents say they don't discuss sex.

"If I have a chess club, I'm going to be talking about chess," Buttars said. "And if I have a dance club, I'm going to be talking about dance."
Read "Buttars: Bill won't mention 'divine design'" from the Daily Herald.

Don't they have child labor laws?

Forget about trophies, at the 2nd Godwin Kiddies Open Chess Tournament in Cebu City, The Philippines it's all about the money:
The champion of the tournament will receive P700, while the rest of the top five will receive P500, P300, P200 and P100.
Now, I don't have the slightest idea what a Philippine P is worth, but I'd imagine that here in the States there would be an uproar about providing cash prizes to school children.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Thursday Night Controversy

We had a bit of an incident just prior to the 3rd round of this month's Thursday Night Illinois Swiss which prompted a rather lengthy letter from Jason Rihel. Prior to posting it below, let me make an attempt to describe what happened.

There were an odd number of competitors planning to play the 3rd Round in the Open section necessitating the need to give one a full point bye instead of a game. According to the rules, the bye is awarded to the player with the lowest score who has not previously been given a full point bye. If two or more players share the low score, the lowest rated player receives the bye. In this particular case, only one player had zero points after two rounds and therefore he was scheduled to receive the bye.

Not wishing to take his bye in lieu of a game, this player chose instead to re-enter the tournament (by paying a new entry fee) with half-point byes in Rounds 1 & 2. This now gave him one point after two rounds which left him tied for the lowest score with Jason Rihel. Though Jason is rated higher, according to the tournament director, a full point bye can not be given to a re-entry. Therefore, Jason was now scheduled to receive the bye.

Needless to say he was not particularly pleased with this turn of events. An animated discussion ensued in which several options were discussed, e.g, Jason could re-enter the tournament and push the bye up to the next player in line, everyone in the tournament could re-enter forcing the bye back to the original player (but, of course, this would make no sense for players with more than one point). Finally, the issue was resolved when a player in the lower section agreed to take a full point bye and Bernardo (who is the TD and was playing in the lower section) agreed to take a half point bye in the lower section and play as the "houseman" in the Open section. While this proved to be a satisfactory answer at the moment, it is still clear that the re-entry resulted in another player getting "screwed out" of a game (not to mention a reshuffling of the pairings in both the Open and Under sections).

With this background covered, here is Jason's letter:

I am, perhaps irrationally, still really angry about what transpired at the BCC this past Thursday, when [Alexander] Paphitis re-entered to avoid his third round bye. By doing this, he slaps me with a bye 15 minutes before the round is supposed to start, when I fully expected to play my 3rd round game. [Alexander] knew he was destined for a bye for the whole week, and Bernardo even called him that afternoon to inform him of his likely bye. Instead of accepting his well earned bye, he shows up at the club 15 minutes before the round is supposed to start and re-enters the tournament to avoid his bye.

I am especially angry because after the round, I confronted him and asked that he, in the future, might show a little more consideration for other players, who also would like to play their games. At the VERY LEAST, he could have indicated his desire to re-enter a week in advance, so that I might be aware of my pending bye fate. He refused to admit that he even did anything rude at all, which just infuriates me. When my own bad play earns me an early bye, I take my lumps instead of sticking them to other players who might deserve to play more (either because they have scored some points or they have earned over time a higher rating).

For example, how would [Alexander] have felt if the situation were slightly different? In round 2, [Alexander] has the game of his life against a master, and he wins, while I lost my game in round 2. He now has 1 point, and I have 0. I am getting the bye, and [Alexander] has earned the right to keep playing. However, I come to round 3, [Alexander] is already sitting at the board, setting up his pieces, relaxing after his commute to the tournament. Suddenly, I declare that I am re-entering, which gives me 1 point to his 1 point, and now HE is slapped with the bye, as his rating is lower. He could now do two things:

1) Get his just desserts and go home

2) Take the really stupid step of paying to re-enter, giving him the SAME SCORE OF 1 POINT, and then slapping someone else with the full point bye. In some cases, this would mean that a person who has 1.5 or 2 points out of 2 would have gotten the bye.

In fact, such silliness could have happened on Thursday when [Alexander] re-entered like he did: If I then re-entered, that would have given Sullivan the bye. If he paid to re-enter, then Salomon would have gotten the bye, then Salomon re-enters, giving Godin the bye, and then Godin re-enters, giving one of the players with 2 out of 2 a free bye, which they gladly take.

In other words, by ponying up the entry fee again, [Alexander] bullied us into the same -- you want to play round 3, you have to pay. As most of us are paying 17 dollars to play some chess, not really to win, this just doesn't seem fair.

As a result of Thursday, I think that the BCC must consider more carefully rules about re-entering tournaments, especially for a 4 round event. The rule could be quite simple -- you only get 1 bye, and you have to declare it before round 2. Or if you want to re-enter, you have to declare it a week in advance. At any rate, it is more than just silly to have a player enter half a tournament and have any hope of winning the money. Would this happen in any other competition (OK, I guess in ice skating Michelle Kwan got to be on the Olympic team without qualifying, but that is different)? This late re-entry is also odd in small events with only 10 people, as it could force situations that give the tournament leaders a full point bye.

This also means that the bye rules should be expressly stated for each BCC event. Check out the Marshall Chess Club in New York City -- to avoid confusion, they make it very clear when you must declare byes, and how many you can get. Presumably to avoid such conflicts as the one on Thursday, players rated below 2000 are only allowed one bye in most events there.

I just think that re-entering to avoid a bye in the third round is an abuse of the "right" to re-enter events (which I did not see granted by the USCF in any of the rules, by the way) and should be eliminated.

To highlight the abuse potential, I'm keeping my eyes peeled now for opportunities to force [Alexander] to take a third round bye. In fact, I could go so far as to pay the re-entry fee of multiple players if it slaps [Alexander] with a bye. And I'll wait until round 3 is about to start, and see how he likes it.

Of course this is just silly and spiteful. Shouldn't the BCC adopt rules that keep players cordial?

Jason

I agree with Jason that this issue needs to be addressed. However, I'm not sure that messing with the bye rules is the answer. We have many players who have unpredictable work schedules who benefit from the ability to take a bye or two when necessary (myself included). I haven't really seen any abuse of this kind from them. Further, we already have a rule in place requiring early declaration of last round byes to ensure that tournament leaders don't take byes in the last round to secure prize money without playing.

Instead, I would be more inclined to put prohibitions on re-entries. Re-entries are extremely rare in our tournaments in any case. In fact, I can only recall one other re-entry and it involved the same player (surely there are others that I am not aware of, but it is nonetheless uncommon). It's not as if our puny prize funds would ever justify paying an additional entry to take a shot at a big payday. Therefore, I would propose that the tournament committee consider the following proposals: 1) Do not allow re-entries at BCF events or 2) Do not allow re-entries after the beginning of Round 2 at BCF events.

I can think of only two counter-arguments. First, as a struggling not-for-profit shouldn't we be happy to take in every extra entry fee we can? Second, will we still let players who have not previously entered the tournament enter before Round 3 with two half point byes? If so, isn't this essentially the same thing as re-entering?

As to the money, as a Board Member familiar with club financials I am hesitant to shut off a potential revenue stream (as small as it is). However, allowing abuses in tournaments will only reduce tournament attendance in the future. Regarding the other questions, my answers are "yes" and "so what."

Now, it's your turn to weigh in...

Going all in is risky

Should efforts to promote chess in the United States focus on big events intended to attract media attention or steady and slow grassroots efforts? Steady and slow seems to have made some headway at the scholastic level, but not much among adults. On the other hand, the record for big "splashes" seems even worse.

First, consider the HB Global. Sure, those of us in the chess community thought it was a big deal. But did it really have any impact outside the already committed group? I think not. Instead, a good portion of the HB Foundation's money was wasted on an effort that probably will have little long-term impact on chess promotion in the States (o.k., it wasn't wasted if you were one of the prize winners).

Next, consider this article about the Karpov International School of Chess in Lindsborg, Kansas. Apparently, all the money they spent on bringing former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev to Kansas for the Chess for Peace program has left the organization in dire financial straits. Now they are selling the building in which they are housed as part of a plan to stay afloat. Was their big splash worth it? One way to judge would be to ask your non-chess playing friends what they remember about the 2005 Chess for Peace program. I'm willing to go out on a limb and guess that "huh?" will be their most frequent response.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Truck driver puts Bitch down

WTOL Channel 11 in Toledo, Ohio chose a different lead to describe the scene at Jen Shahade's simul in suburban Cleveland.

Somerville's very own U.S. Champion

Paul MacInnis (not to be confused with BCF president Paul MacIntyre) is spear-heading a campaign to recognize the centennial of the death of Harry Nelson Pillsbury:
This message is for people interested in donating to the U.S. Chess Trust in order to place a plaque on Harry Nelson Pillsbury's grave. Harry Nelson Pillsbury was a Somerville resident and U.S. Champion.

June 17th is the centennial of the death of Harry Nelson Pillsbury. I have started a grass-roots fundraising effort to get the city of Somerville to erect a plaque (perhaps two) in his honor. Donations can be made to: U.S. Chess Trust c/o U.S Chess Federation; 3054 U.S. Route 9W; New Windsor, N.Y. 12553. Please note that because the U.S. Chess Trust is a non-profit organization donations are tax-deductible. Also donors should put "Pillsbury Memorial" in the memo part of their check. My thanks in advance...

Sincerely,

Paul MacInnis

My Chess Life

Scott McCloud has put together a rather lengthy comic strip entitled "My Obsession With Chess." One of the panels mentions a Boston area chess club you might be familiar with.

Hat tip to Pawn Sensei for sending me the link.

[Note: I had this post sitting in draft for awhile ... but now that The Patzer's Tale has scooped me on it, add him to the hat tip.]

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Making something out of not much

Howard Goldowsky (sort of) reports on his trip to New York:
I had the fortuitous opportunity to be in Queens this past Saturday, where Jen Shahade was "playing against the world" at the Noguchi museum. So my wife and I took in the chess set exhibit and got to meet Jen. She signed a copy of her book and it was a good time. I was thinking of doing a post on the trip, but there isn't much to say about it.
More than enough for me to create a post -- thanks.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Committed to an idea or ready to be committed?

Have any of you been reading the Slugfest.org blog? Usually in the chess community there is a lot of talk but very little action. So it seems kind of cool that Clint Ballard not only developed a new tournament scoring system intended to promote fighting chess but is also organizing tournaments to test out the idea.

However, apparently this isn't enough for Clint. Now he is focusing on bringing chess to television. Again, he's not just talking about it. He's building a TV production studio and large scale demonstration boards and set pieces. He's researching and buying high-end camera equipment. And get this, he's hiring swimsuit models to appear in the pilot episode of the program he plans to shoot in a couple of weeks.

So you might be wondering, what does it take to be a Slugfest Girl? According to Clint, they have to be "beautiful, athletic, intelligent" and "all Christians." And that's not all, one of the original girls he hired was let go because she had a tattoo on her back. Exactly what kind of chess show is he creating?

Click here to see more photos of the Slugfest Girls.

The spy who came in from the cold

Former BCC member Ilya Orsher checked in recently from far away. Here are some major excerpts from his e-mail to the club:
hello old chess mates! this is ilya orsher writing to you. i took a look at the site today and had fond recollections of the years gone by. it did make me feel a bit queasy though ;). you know all the losses and nerve racking exploits. but i did want to send my warm regards to the people of the club. especially cris desmarais and jacob rasin and of course all the rest of the fellows like eric godin and everyone else that i had a chance to play....

ive been staying in india for the past 4 years or so with absolutely no chess. im probably superstrong now after the rest and could beat you all ! (just kidding)

ok
cheers
ilya
Click here to review some of Ilya's games from the 2000 BCC Championship.

Playing on the long diagonal

Ottawa Watch labels France's declaration that they are prepared to use nuclear weapons against terrorist states as follows: Israel and Iran's nuclear chess game Part II: France moves a bishop.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

This is a test

Podcaster The Geek Quiz includes a chess-related question in Geek Quiz 003. It's not a very hard one, so I'd be surprised if you don't get it right.

Click the "Download the Episode" link and listen (no iPod required; it will play through your computer's media player).

Beauty and the Geek Part 2

As you may recall, Paul MacIntyre posted earlier about the producers of the television show "Beauty and the Geek" calling the Boylston Chess Club in search of "geeks" when they came to Harvard Square to hold auditions. I don't know whether any club members tried out, but suffice to say none were selected to be on the show.

I've never watched the show myself, but our friend Howard Goldowsky has. Here is his report on the chess angle present in this season's series:
I try to avoid TV, but I do watch one show with my wife, called Beauty and the Geek. (I can relate to some of the contestants, if you know what I mean.) .... There are eight geeks. One is labeled as a "Speed Chess Champion". His name is Joe. I did a little Internet research and found out that his full name is Joe Block, he graduated from U of Chicago, and now attends Northwestern as a grad student. His USCF rating is 1590.... Another contestant, "Brandon", was the president of the U of Miami (FL) chess club a few years back. I couldn't find his last name. They showed about 10 seconds of these two playing blitz (with a Chronos) at the beginning of episode one. My hunch is that Joe is stronger than Brandon because I think Brandon lost the game. I have no idea how Joe got labeled as a champion, but I guess if you win one game some where, some time, "champion" you are.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Hurricanes sac four pawns

At least that's Sun Sentinel sports columnist Ethan Skolnick's view:
In HBO's The Wire, D'Angelo Barksdale, disgusted that two fellow hustlers would play checkers on a chess board, explained how each chess piece corresponds to a role in their "business."

....If Barksdale had been comparing chess to another more legitimate if equally competitive enterprise, he would have had to adjust his analogy slightly.

In major college football, the pawns do often find themselves sacrificed first, which was the fate for four University of Miami assistants after the 40-3 loss to Louisiana State in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl. Yet, after they go, the king tends to stay the king for only one more year.
Read more...

BU Open Pics

8 photos from the 2005 Boston University Open posted on Flickr by Brian Salomon -- BCF members will recognize several familiar faces.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Celebrating MLK Day

WFMZ-TV reports on the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Chess Tournament in Reading, Pennsylvania (Real Player required; text version).
"It's black and white and we're all equal. Chess is a great playing field where we're all equal, we all start out equalized, and we should all be treated equally, and we can all work together in an equal fashion."

Why did you join the chess club?

For Kat Gordinier at Ankeny High School in Des Moines, Iowa it's for the boys:
"For me it's a social event," she said. "It's a fun thing, and I even met my boyfriend here."
Read "Ankeny Chess Club combines strategy, social interaction" from the Des Moines Register.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Caption Contest IV

As in football, Canadians have
developed
their own version of Chessboxing

Post your caption in the comments.

Source: "Chess club outgrows the classroom" from The Mississauga News.

Homers!

According to this article from the Daily News & Analysis in Mumbai, India it really isn't Anand's fault that he didn't win the World Championship in San Luis. And, he is still ranked #1 after all.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Linkin Centre

With a new year upon us, I thought I would offer one of my periodic reminders on the value of cross-linking within the chess blogosphere. Sidebar links are one of the key ways that we move from being a disparate collection of independent blogs covering the same general topic to forming an interactive community. The Knights Errant are a perfect example -- would they have the same reach, recognition and influence if each blog published exactly what they publish today but did not associate with each other through cross-linking? Not a chance!

So with all the new chess blogs being created, let me encourage those of you who have yet to include a listing of favorite chess blogs in your sidebar to do so. And for those of you who already have one, why not update it and add a few of your new favorites? A tighter, more integrated chess blogging community will benefit both chess bloggers and chess blog readers.
**********
As many of you know, here at BCC Weblog I generally follow the "give a link, get a link" rule (as it relates to placement on the sidebar). For 2006, my inclination is to be a bit more disciplined about its application. Since there are always exceptions to every rule (and since I want to avoid being called a hypocrite), let's state them for the record:
  • The GM exception - That's right, if you are a GM (or are ghost-posting for a GM) then you are automatically included on the sidebar. GM Susan Polgar gets on, IM Ben Finegold does not (yet). Of course, Ben is hoping that it is only a matter of time; take a look at the URL of his blog. The GM exception also has application to the 30-45 day active vs. inactive principle, e.g. GM Chabanon gets more leeway as an on-again, off-again blogger than most.
  • The Mig exception - If you are Mig, you get on. Sure I wish Mig would join the greater chess blogging community, but he obviously hasn't been inclined to do so. Nevertheless, I simply can't ignore the most widely read chess blog (by a wide margin) in the world.
  • The "Who you calling a blogger?" exception - There are a couple of very influential chess sites which predate the chess blogosphere that I choose to consider as blogs based on their format (dated posts organized from more to less recent). Since they probably don't think of themselves as bloggers, I think it is reasonable to apply different standards to them. Chessbase News and Tim Krabbe's Open Chess Diary currently fall into this category.
  • The Knights Errant exception - All active Knights are included in the sidebar listings. Of course, the vast majority of the Knights do link here, often under the phrase "House Reporter." Currently, only two active Knights -- Druss and Guru -- do not. It would be nice if they did, but it's not the end of the world.
"Wait a minute," you say, "There are a few blogs on the sidebar that don't link here and don't fall under any of these exceptions." Well, yes, that's true. These are blogs that I enjoy reading that I am indicating my interest in cross-linking with. In other words, I'm playing the give-side of the give-get rule.

In the case of The 64 Square Jungle, I know that Chessdad64 would link here if only he knew how. Here's hoping he finally acts on his plan to move to a new blogging platform and update his template to include links. King's Gambit has been there for awhile, but to no avail. It may very well become a casualty of this year's more disciplined approach. Finally, I just recently added BlueEyedRook, one of my newer favorites. Hopefully he'll take the hint.

While we're still doing sidebar chatter, let me mention a few of the more recent additions: DreadPirateJosh (who sometime back voluntarily relinquished his status as a Knight), Steve Learns Chess, and Ajedrez por Sertal.

In addition, I removed 1.e4 Nf6 from the sidebar based on Michael Goeller's description at the Kenilworth Chess Club blog listings:
1.e4 Nf6 by Robyourcontent
http://e4nf6.blogspot.com/
An Indian chess plagiarist and pirate who deserves no traffic.
I haven't investigated this myself, but Michael's word is good enough for me.
**********
In non-sidebar news:
  • A few 404 casualties - All About Chess, GM Maurice Ashley, Echecs & Blog, and The User X Perspective (where the error page states, "We are sorry, this site is currently frozen for a potential violation of our Terms").
  • And many new additions to the Active listings including The Buzzbeez, Blog of a Chess Nut, Chess Improvement Efforts, Chess Dude, ChessinTaiwan, Schachblatter, Deutscher Schachbund, and several others.

Homicide Bombing

Link

Monday, January 09, 2006

Pay To Play

Goran at Chess News and Events was looking for some information on chess tournament entry fees in the United States.

I believe the $400 entry fee for the HB Global which he mentions is right (or at least in the ballpark). I would point out, however, that this is clearly on the high end of entry fees in the States. The 2006 World Open is also approaching the $400 entry fee level, but other major national and regional tournaments run by the Continental Chess Association are lower, e.g. North American Open ($240-280), Eastern Class Championships ($70-90), Foxwoods Open ($250-300), Liberty Bell Open ($100-120).

I think major state tournaments here in Massachusetts (e.g. Mass Open, Pillsbury) run about $50-80. Local club tournaments typically have entry fees in the $15-30 range. For example, the BCF Thursday Night Illinois Swiss charges $17 for members, $27 for non-members. At the Metrowest Chess Club they charge $15-20 for members and $20-25 for non-members. If you are looking for a deal, we run a $10 Open one weekend a quarter at the Boylston (although a few years back it used to be called the $8 Open).

Goran asks:

Do organizers expect participators to sponsor most of the prize fund?

That and more! In the absence of corporate sponsorship, entry fees fund the prize fund, tournament expenses and the profits (if any) of the organizers.

Do our entry fee levels in the U.S. inhibit the growth of chess talent here as Goran hypothesizes? What do you think?

In Los Angeles, I could understand...

...but in India, such brutality against chess players by the official authorities?

The Mumbai Mirror reports that "Two Kolkata policemen beat grand masters." What an outrage! :)

Sunday, January 08, 2006

The next local GM?


Congratulations to IM Josh Friedel who secured his first Grandmaster norm by winning the 2005 Berkeley Masters ahead of GMs Ehlvest, Fedorowicz & Yermolinsky and 20 others.

Hat Tip: Chess News and Events

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The African Attack

The Permanent Secretary of the Angolan Federation of Chess (FAX), Manuel Andrade, was shot dead on Friday evening...

Another episode of "The Chess Files"

I finally got around to reading the December 2005 issue of Chess Life (apparently it got lost in one or another pile of magazines and unread correspondence). Naturally, I immediately turned to the 'Checking in' section to read Jim's letter on GM Larry Evan's assertion that an Alabama school had outlawed chess. It is interesting that the editor chose to title Jim's letter "Evans mistaken?" when "Evan's mistaken!" would have been more appropriate.

As I continued reading down the column, I noticed that the next item was an errata from a story about the National Open in the September issue. The item, highlighted in a box, was titled "J'adoube." Therefore, the word "J'adoube" appears in the column immediately after Jim's name and location.

As I read on in the issue I reached GM Pal Benko's Endgame Lab column on page 48. Benko shared several excerpted positions from GM Jan Timman's book Curacao 1962: The Battle of Chess Minds that Shook the Chess World, one of which Pal titled "J'adoube!".

A coincidence, you say? I think not!

Call them Chartists

"From my close contact with artists and chess players, I have come to the personal conclusion that while all artists are not chess players, all chess players are artists." - Marcel Duchamp

Hat Tip: Newsday.com

Friday, January 06, 2006

Mig responds to Serbian visa denial story

I sent Mig a link to the post on the Italian's denying visas to the two Serbian GMs. Here is his e-mail response:
Hello there and thanks. Both are posting with little information, certainly none supporting a controversy. Visa problems are hardly unique to Serbian chessplayers. If they can find out something from the Italian embassy it might be interesting, or it might not. Are Serbians routinely denied entry?
Who knows? Annoying for S&M [editor's note: Serbia & Montenegro] chess fans, but not much of a story as it stands.

Saludos, Mig
Goran, is there any way to get more information on the circumstances to determine whether there is a real story here?

Christiansen 1 - DG 1

That's right! I secured a split decision in my encounter with Christiansen at the 2006 BCF Herb Healy Open House. Now to be technical, my loss came in Round 2 against GM Larry while my win occurred in Round 3 against his wife, Natasha ... but, why split hairs?

Watch as GM Christiansen first deprives me of counterplay and then "storms the barricades" with little regard for material. His 22nd move wasn't even on my radar screen before he played it. Eventhough I was the victim, I thoroughly enjoyed watching Larry's display of attacking chess.

GM Larry Christiansen (2633) - DG (2033)
[C03] French Tarrasch: Unusual Black 3rd moves

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Be7 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nfd7 6.c3 c5 7.Bd3 Nc6 8.0–0 cxd4?! [8...g5 is the correct move order] 9.cxd4 g5 10.Nb3 a5 11.a4 g4 12.Ne1 h5 13.f4 Qb6 14.Be3 Rg8 15.Rc1 f5 16.exf6 Nxf6 17.Nc5 Bd7 18.Bb5 Bxc5 19.dxc5 Qc7 20.Nd3 Ne4 21.f5 e5

22.Nf4! exf4? 23.Bxf4 Qc8 24.Qxd5 Nf6 25.Rce1+ Kf8 26.Bh6+ Rg7 27.Qd6+ Kg8 28.Bc4+ Kh7 29.Bxg7 Kxg7

30.Re7+! Nxe7 31.Qxe7+ Kh6 32.Qxf6+ Kh7 33.Qg6+ Kh8 34.Qh6# 1–0

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Approaching a tipping point

Is podcasting going to be the next great thing in the chess world? Surely you've read about Alexandra Kosteniuk's podcasts by now, and the well done amateur videos at Chess Talk have been getting some buzz.

But how many of you have listened to the Ruy Lopez show? The podders (Jay, James, Josh, Grayson, et. al.) discuss all sorts of mundane topics (most unrelated to the royal game), listen to some MP3s, and along the way play some very bad chess. Now, that's entertainment!

Half a loaf

The USCF crosstable for the 2006 Herb Healy Rated Section has been posted. Congratulations to FM Bill Kelleher and Lawyer Times for tying for 1st place with perfect 4.0/4 scores.

Update #1: A few of us at the club last night were looking at the crosstable and noticed the somewhat amazing fact that not one game was drawn in the entire rated section across all four rounds.

Update #2: No surprise -- GM Christiansen won the unrated section with a perfect 4.0 score. Several people tied for second with 3 points.

What you gonna do when they come for you?

Chess News and Events scoops the world chess press again.

Goran reports that the Italian Government refused to issue visas to Serbian GMs Miladinovic and Ivanisevic in order for them to participate in the Reggio Emilia tournament. He suggests that this was a politically-motivated act against the country of Serbia & Montenegro.

Why is there no coverage of this in the mainstream chess press? Chessbase, where are you? TWIC? Mig? Anyone?

I'm sorry to say that the chess world has consistently acted like sheep in the face of this kind of political interference. Remember Libya?

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Stepak photos of the Herb Healy Open House

Chess photographer Steve Stepak shot photos of the Herb Healy Open House at the Boylston Chess Club, including some rare (for him) color images.

Kids love to play chess to win, absent ribbons.

One of the wonderful things about chess is the overlap of generations. 10 year old Andrew Wang (son of NM Frank Wang) can play a serious game with FM Chris Chase.

And bloggers can play with champions.


More of Steve's photos are posted here.

King of the Pygmies

I was the "cool" kid in the honors class, which is akin to being the best dancer in the chess club...

From "Deconstructing Tom Cruise" at Continuation.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

An ever-evolving game

Over in Westford, MA they've come up with several innovations/ modifications to the traditional chess tournament experience most of us are used to.

First, why bother with ratings...
Kids wearing color-coded badges identifying their skill level (blue for beginner, green for intermediate, and red for advanced) played against kids of same skill level from different schools.
Wouldn't it be amusing if everyone in the U1800 section at the World Open had to wear red shirts?

Second, they have different ways to win...
The children played five rounds of games, each lasting a maximum of 20 minutes and ending with checkmate or counting points.
I must say again that I think this "counting points" concept is really ill-conceived. For example, it pretty much puts the King's Gambit out of existence -- 1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3. Nf3 Black waits 20 minutes and wins on points.

Third, they've developed a pairing approach which makes the Swiss system seem a model of clarity and simplicity...
Everyone played the first two games for points for their schools. Winners of either or both of the first two games, played the third game, and if they continued to win, the fourth and fifth games in the "points" rounds. Players who did not win "points" games played "ribbons" games.


Finally, winners have a special celebration ritual which involves...

...singing and strutting.
Although, come to think of it, I may have seen some post-game strutting before.

Read "Annual chess tournament has all the right moves" from the Westford Eagle.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Herb Healy Open House at the Boylston

Lots of chess, lots of chess talk, and lots of food. A terrific opening for the New Year. Really extraordinary thanks to Bernardo Iglesias and Mike Griffin for all their efforts organizing, shopping, setting up, cooking, and running the party like (digital) clockwork. And to FM Paul MacIntyre who came out of a sick bed to help!

It may not have been the largest New Year's party, but it must have been the most highly rated - saturated with masters and experts, including 3x US Champion GM Larry Christiansen (see DG's previous post and add NM Frank Wang and WIM Vesna Dimitrijevic).

And including Christopher Williams who recently won the national 11th grade co-championship. As he had done at the BU Open, Chris beat SM Jacob Rasin in an exciting game and so unofficially pulled himself over the 2200 level and started 2006 as an incipient new master. Congratulations!

Some photos are now available here.

So that's why Dennis keeps posting N.D. scores

From "A game of strength vs. strength" at the South Bend Tribune:
It will be strength against strength ... as Notre Dame brings the best passing offense ... Ohio State has seen all season and a scoring offense that can rival Texas' top-ranked unit.

"It's going to be a big chess match," Ohio State safety Donte Whitner said.

Oh no!

Well, this is sure to cause a fair bit of confusion -- I recently came across the Brighton Chess Club Weblog, surely to be shortened to BCC Weblog by some. While the blog hails from the UK, I suspect that people searching for Boston area chess clubs will run across it since Brighton is also the name of one of city's neighborhoods.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

2006 Herb Healy - Flash Report

We had a nice turnout for the Herb Healy Open House today. Among the Master class, FM Bill Kelleher, FM Chris Chase, SM Jacob Rasin and LM Eric Godin competed in the rated section. The unrated section was headed by GM Larry Christiansen, along with NM Charles Riordan and NM Alex Cherniack. FM Paul MacIntyre and NM Vadim Martirosov were both around but not playing. I had the opportunity to play GM Christiansen in the second round which provided more than enough value to cover my entry fee for the day. I'll share our encounter in a later post (needless to say, had I won, this would have been the post about our game).

There were also many regulars and not so regulars around (my apologies in advance since I will undoubtedly leave out many names). I chatted with Bob Oresick, Jon Lee, Ed Foye, Walter Driscoll, and Hal Fishbein among many others. I also caught up with Joe Perl, who I hadn't seen in quite some time.

The newspaper men were both playing -- the Dean of New England Chess Journalism, Harold Dondis of the Boston Globe, and Mike Henroid, formerly of the Boston Herald and for the past six months the chess columnist for the Denver Post. Tony Cortizas (do I have the spelling right?) was also there taking photos.

Even the blogosphere wasn't left out. Knight Errant Takchess made the trip down from New Hampshire to play in the rated section. I'm sorry to say that the locals were showing him no mercy, at least in the early rounds. And, occasional BCC blogger Jason Rihel was also there.

Mike Griffin put out a very nice spread for lunch, as usual. This year's surprise was a large crock pot of Larry C's extra-special Grandmaster Chili.

I left after the third round (so as to maintain some peace on the home front), but not before seeing a few upsets in the rated section. 2005 USCF 11th Grade National Champion Chris Williams took down SM Rasin and Expert Lawyer Times did the same to FM Chase. I'll link to the final results when they are posted.

Finally, let me not forget to mention the (usual) excellent TD work by Bernardo Iglesias and Kent Leung.