Thursday, August 31, 2006

Breaking News -- Boston Blitz win first round

NEWS FLASH -- The US Chess League website has the Boston Blitz winning their first round against the Miami Sharks with an impressive 3-1 score. GM Christiansen led the way with a victory on board 1 over GM Becerra, while Vadim Martirosov and Ilya Krasik scored fine wins on Board 3 and 4, pushing the Blitz to a good start against a strong team. Kudos to Vadim who cemented a team win with a victory in a game where he was outrated by almost 200 points. Hopefully more news will follow....

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Historical BCC Championship results

The 2006 edition of the Boylston Chess Club championship begins on September 11. It's a single round robin open to all club members 2200 and over, with one entry spot reserved for the winner of the Reubens-Landey 1800-2199 qualifier.

I don't know how far back the championship goes, but the crosstables on the USCF website go back to 1991, so, having too much time on my hands, I whipped up a chart of the results of the last 15 years. Numbers represent what place that person finished in; players are arranged in rough order of how impressive their results are. I did it by hand, and some results were tricky (a couple of times there was a double round robin entered as two distinct tournaments), so I'm not betting my life that it's all correct - let me know if you find any mistakes.

Rasin 11121214
MacIntyre 112113
Chase 44213421632
Cherniack 37515421445
Paschall 53442512
Riordan 3451
Gelman 12
Broomes 15
Martisorov 422
Godin 82876955
Desmarais 234
Warfield 23
Orsher 24
Stancil 842
Resika 652
Porter 2
Casillas 33
Theil 3
Nemchenok 4
Schmitt 69566666
Astrachan 56
Leung 75
Rueda 5
Feinstein 5
Becker 66
Mishkin 69
Glickman 6
Spector 6
Armes 6
Magnuson 6
Clayton 7
Williams 7
Chisam 88
Woods 88
Kreps 8
Perez 9
Mays 9
Wuersch 9
Slive 1010
Croxen 10
Lappin 10

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Chris Chase wins the 2006 Charles Drafts Memorial

Walter Driscoll once again sponsored a tournament to remember his friend Charles Drafts. Bernardo Iglesias was the TD. 29 players competed last Saturday at the Boylston Club.

FM Chris Chase won four games to take the first prize ($100).

Evan Sonkin was the top under 1900 with 3.5.

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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Chess and Poker, or what's a meta phor...

This morning on the BBC I heard a commentator say something like this about the nuclear issue:

"The Iranians are patiently playing chess while the Bush administration is bluffing as in poker."

Monday, August 21, 2006

USCL Flops a Flush

The United States Chess League appears to have achieved a major coup by securing its first financial sponsor. Today, Commissioner Shahade announced an arrangement with online poker site PokerStars major claim to fame is that 2003 WSOP Main Event Champion Chris Moneymaker and 2004 Champion Greg Raymer both won their seats through satellites on the site.

Under the deal, each of the original eight USCL teams "...will receive a stipend for the season to help them pay their top players..." Apparently teams must complete a full-year in the league before becoming eligible for these payments. Therefore, neither Tennessee nor Seattle will be receiving the stipend this year. While the USCL announcement doesn't mention the value of the deal, in a comment to a previous post on BCC Weblog Shahade indicated that teams would be receiving $100 per match. For its part, PokerStars now has a banner advertisement prominently displayed near the top of the USCL homepage.

chess and poker

Obviously, PokerStars has recognized that chess players are often drawn to the game of poker. Our very own Bryan Clark could be exhibit #1 -- not to mention "Action" Dan Harrington, Howard "The Professor" Lederer, and many more. You can also check out this post on the Daily Dirt about chess players cashing at this year's Main Event. I suppose the big question for the tournament chess community is this -- after tasting the rewards of poker, do these individuals continue to play chess?
In other USCL news, the Boston Blitz have completed their 2006 roster by adding three additional names:
  • GM Eugene Perelshteyn - Perelshteyn was the Blitz's strongest performer last season and joins this year's team as a newly-minted Grandmaster.

  • FM Bill Kelleher - By contrast, Bill had the worst performance rating on the 2005 squad. One has to imagine that this was an odd aberration given his years of tournament experience.

  • NM Vadim Martirosov - New to the team this year, Vadim is a strong master and all around nice guy. His chess teaching prowess is legendary.
Former member of the Blitz, IM Josh Friedel, has joined the San Francisco Mechanics as their top-rated player. Rumor has it that Josh is trying to get them to change the name of the team to the Maniacs.

Disclaimer: BCC Weblog provides independent coverage of the United States Chess League. It is not affiliated with the USCL or the Boston Blitz.

Prelude to a Championship

Invitations to the BCC Championship tournament have been sent out to all masters in the club and the winner of the Reubens-Landey qualifier. For those of you not invited (including me), now is the time to express your interest in playing in the Hauptturnier -- a round-robin tournament which runs in parallel to the Championship. Sign-up at the club or let Bernardo or Bob Oresick know of your interest.

The Championship and Hauptturnier begin on Monday, September 11th. In a significant change from past years, the time control will be 30/90, SD/45 -- making this the first time that there is no possibility of adjourned games.

In a related note, at last week's Board meeting BCF President (and former club champion) Paul MacIntyre was asked why two master lectures were scheduled for August. Regarding NM Riordan's lecture he replied, "I wanted Charles to have a chance to lecture while he is still champion."

Watch out! The pre-Championship trash talking has begun.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Measuring the Chess Blogosphere III

This is the third installment of my series on Measuring the Chess Blogosphere. In Part 1, I looked at unique visitor stats for chess blogs and in Part 2, Google Page Ranks. In this post, I'll be covering syndication subscriptions.

For those of you unfamiliar with syndication, you might be surprised to learn that many people read blogs without actually visiting them. How? They use something called an RSS reader which aggregates posts from a variety of sources and presents them in a consolidated form. There are many different readers available on the web (see the BCC Weblog sidebar for a list of several of them), and most personalized portal services, e.g., My Yahoo, My MSN, Google Homepage, etc. can aggregate syndicated feeds as well. What this means for the blog publisher is that visits to the site may significantly underestimate the actual number of readers of your blog.

For my purposes, syndication also provides another (imperfect) means of measuring relative reader interest across the chess blogosphere. To do this, I focused on one reader in particular -- Bloglines. When subscribing to a feed in Bloglines, the site shows all the feeds to that blog which are available and how many subscribers there are to each. As such, it is relatively easy to calculate the total number of Bloglines subscribers to each chess blog. Of course, it took a bit of time to do this for several hundred chess blogs, but that's why you read this blog (smile!).
Before looking at the data, a number of caveats are in order:
  • The data below measures Bloglines subscriptions only, not the total number of subscribers to each blog. Bloglines is a very popular reader and therefore probably makes a good proxy for relative subscriber interest across chess blogs. However, if a disproportionate share of your subscribers use a different reader then your ranking in the list below will not be accurate. In particular, you will notice that no non-English chess blogs appear in the list. This could simply indicate that there is not much interest in these blogs among subscribers, or it might mean that another RSS reader is much more popular among these blogs' readers.

  • Subscriptions don't die. Unless one deletes their Bloglines account or a specific subscription, that subscription will continue to be counted. It is certainly possible that some subscribers are no longer reading the blog they subscribed to. Further, there is little incentive to remove a subscription to a blog which has become inactive or posts irregularly. Therefore, a blog will tend to maintain its number of subscribers long after its visitors have moved on to more timely sources of content.

  • Those of you who currently use Bloglines may find that the subscription numbers listed below do not correspond with the numbers you see for the same blog in your Bloglines reader. This is explained by the fact that many blogs have several feeds available within Bloglines. For example when subscribing to BCC Weblog, Bloglines presents you with four options: atom.xml (two different versions), atom.xml? bsuser=, and BCC-Weblog. Once you have subscribed, you see only the number of subscribers to the feed you chose. The numbers below reflect all the feeds combined.

  • Let me reiterate the standard caveat which applies to the entire Measuring the Chess Blogosphere series. None of these measures say anything definitive about the quality or worthiness of any blog. As always, that is a subjective judgment of each individual chess blog reader.
Now, let's move on to the data which was collected on August 16, 2006. I have included all currently active chess blogs with more than ten Bloglines subscribers:

Daily Dirt Chess Blog - 121
About Chess - 58
Susan Polgar Chess Blog - 55
Boylston Chess Club Weblog - 40
The Chess Mind - 40

Blue Devil - 24
Online Chess Blog - 22
J'adoube - 20
The Closet Grandmaster - 20
Temposchlucker - 19

ChessAssistance - 18
The Kenilworthian - 18
DreadPirateJosh - 17
Generalkaia - 17
Pawn Sensei - 17
Sancho Pawnza - 17

King of the Spill - 16
Pale Morning Dun - 16
Patzer's Mind - 16
ChessBase News - 15
Takchess - 15

Montse - 14
Phorku - 14
And Then There Was Chess - 13
Alberto Dominguez - 12
Chess News and Events - 12
Druss - 12
GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's Podcasts - 12
Man de la Maza - 12

Blunder Prone - 11
Chess for Blood - 11
Mousetrapper - 11
Qxh7# - 11

A few noteworthy findings:
  • In Part 1, we didn't have any verifiable visitor stats for the Daily Dirt and had to take Mig at his word that he gets about 5,000 per day. While it is not a surprise, this data certainly confirms the hypothesis that his blog is the most widely read in the chess 'sphere. However, it is interesting to note that his subscriber counts are only 2-3 times as great as the nearest competitors, while the 5,000 visits number was 10-20 times as great as the next best in that category.

  • You will notice that many of the Knights Errant are included in the list above. I believe this reflects the fact that many Knights have adopted Bloglines as an easy means for keeping track of their brethren.

  • As I mentioned above, not one non-English chess blog made the list.

  • I expected Chessbase News to be much higher, though it should be pointed out that they do not publicize the fact that they have a feed.

Please share your thoughts on the data in the comments.

One last item before closing -- As I indicated above, this data is limited to Bloglines subscriptions and does not measure total subscriptions to a blog. However, many bloggers can determine (or at least estimate) their total subscriptions. The group that probably will have the easiest time are those who locally-host their own blogging software or use a web-hosted service which reports subscriptions. My useless advice for you -- look up the number. For the rest of us (i.e., mostly the unwashed Blogger masses), if you use Feedburner then I have a proposed estimation technique that you might find useful:

Step 1: Determine the total number of Bloglines subscriptions to your blog and the number just from the Feedburner feed (40 and 9 - for BCC Weblog).

Step 2: Determine the average number of total Feedburner subscriptions to your blog from the Feedburner site (42 - for BCC Weblog)

Step 3: Estimate total subscribers as follows: Total Feedburner subs x Total Bloglines subs / Bloglines Feedburner subs (42 x 40 / 9 = 187 - for BCC Weblog)

Of course, I have no idea how accurate this estimate is.

Dig this!

The "chess champion" e-mail spammer story is back in the local news.

Seems that Braden Bourneval's former partner in crime, neo-nazi Davis Wolfgang Hawke, went missing last year after a Virginia court awarded AOL a $13 million settlement against them. Now AOL is threatening to dig up the yards of Hawke's parents and grandparents in search of gold bars that they believe are buried there.

Read "You've got gold - AOL goes digging" from the Boston Herald.

Hat Tip: Howard Goldowsky

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Something to bitch about

Book publisher Silman-James Press takes the New York Times to task for its hypocrisy (yes, I know, hypocrisy at the Times isn't exactly breaking news).

Apparently, after twice refusing to publish the name of Jen Shahade's book, Chess Bitch: Women in the Ultimate Intellectual Sport, in order to "... protect the sensibilities of its readers", the Times published a piece in the August 6th Sunday magazine, "... 'Pops Goes the Feminist', in which the word 'bitch' is used liberally."

Read Silman-James Press' letter to the New York Times.

Quote of the Week

"It is comparable to the Russian National Chess Team being schooled in their game by a group of drunken toddlers." - A member of the Critical Defects, a Salt Lake City indoor soccer team, explaining what it's like now that they are beating their much more experienced opponents.

From Ryan Byrd's Ramblings

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Lecture Lecture

No, that's not an echo you hear... Between now and the end of the month the Boylston Chess Club will be featuring two events in its Master Lecture Series.

The Boylston Chess Club Master Lecture Series presents:

Endgame Insights -
An evening with the BCC Champion
A 90-minute lecture by NM Charles Riordan

When: Wednesday, August 23rd, 7:00 p.m.

Where: The Boylston Chess Club

Admission: Advance - $3/5 (BCC members/non-members), At the door - $4/6

Charles will present a selection of interesting and instructive endgames from some of his recent high-level encounters. He will let us in on the secrets of his post-mortem analysis and share the conclusions he was able to distill from them.

Charles crashed through the 2300 barrier at this year’s Amateur Team Championships East, where his team won that event and went on to become 2006’s Amateur Team Champions. Charles was undefeated on first board of the team he himself put together. Charles Riordan is, of course, the reigning Boylston Chess Club Champion. Other notable achievements include a tie for first at the 2004 New Hampshire State Championship and second place at the 2004 Massachusetts State Championship. He is also on the Board of Directors of the Boylston Chess Foundation.

Charles has taken some notable scalps. Most recently GM Julio Becerra was defeated by Charles in the endgame. He has defeated GM Sam Palatnik and has drawn once with GM Sergei Kudrin (an endgame swindle), once with GM Aleksander Wojtkiewicz, once with GM Alexander Yermolinsky, and twice with GM Ildar Ibragimov.

Light refreshments will be served.

The Boylston Chess Club Master Lecture Series presents:

A 90-minute lecture by GM Eugene Perelshteyn on his new book
Chess Openings for White, Explained
(Winning with 1.e4)

When: Wednesday, August 30th, 7:00 p.m.

Where: The Boylston Chess Club

Admission: Advance - $3/5 (BCC members/non-members), At the door - $4/6

Drawing from his freshly-published work on the openings for White, GM Eugene Perelshteyn will present an overview of topical openings and their usage, provide some pointers on how to study openings, and give us the inside story of the writing of the book. Copies of his book will be available for purchase and signing.

When Eugene last visited with us in 2005, he was still pursuing his grandmaster dream. I am happy to report that this time we will be receiving a lecture from Grandmaster Eugene Perelshteyn. He achieved his final norm this year at the great tournament at Foxwoods by tying for first with Loek Van Wely and Ilya Smirin.

Perelshteyn won the 2000 U.S. junior title and took clear first in the star-studded 2003 Generation Chess International Chess Tournament in New York City, ahead of veteran GMs Jaan Ehlvest and Larry Christiansen. He defeated Ehlvest again at Foxwoods and clinched a share of first place with a last-round win over Israeli GM Victor Mikhalevski.

Light refreshments will be served.

Adapted from the Boylston Chess Club website

Universal Donors

Every food tastes like chicken and every sport is like chess. This time it's lawn bowling.

It's like playing chess from 100 feet away; there's a tremendous amount of strategy...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Think: ESPN Classic

While waiting for the 2006 US Chess League season to start, you might want to relive some of the moments from BCC Weblog's 2005 coverage of the Boston Blitz.

August: BCC leads U.S. Chess League's Boston Blitz

September: Yankees Suck! - Blitz take early lead vs. Masterminds - Blitz seek rebound after disappointing draw - Live Blogging: Blitz vs. Cobras - Live Blogging: US Chess League - Week 4 - A Balanced Blitz? - The USCL and the Blogosphere - Boston Blitz in Action #1 - Tandem Live Blogging: Boston vs. San Francisco

October: Analytics vs. Intuition - Sharks bite down on Blitz - US Chess League Announces 2006 Line-Up - The Fat Lady has finished her warm-ups - Boston Blitz in Action #2 - Blitz unveil "Secret Weapon" - 1967 all over again? - Good luck, but not enough of it

November: Swan Song - Yawn! - USCL Championship Match Postponed - Blitz by Numbers

Boston Blitz Trading Cards: #1 - #2 - #3 - #4 - #5 - #6 - #7 - #8

Disclaimer: BCC Weblog provides independent coverage of the United States Chess League. It is not affiliated with the USCL or the Boston Blitz.

What'd he say?

Those Aussies don't just sound funny; they say some "funny" things:

The All Blacks proved themselves chess masters in overcoming a determined Australian assault to win the Bledisloe Cup...

Now, just imagine an NBA team with the same name.

Monday, August 14, 2006

August quads report

I didn't have time to play in the quads on Saturday, but I stopped by the club for the last round, and was pleasantly surprised to see seven full sections playing. (For a quad tournament, the players are divided into groups of four by rating, and each group plays a three-round round robin.)

Some highlights from the top few sections:

FM Chris Chase had Scott Didham on the defensive but wasn't able to make his initiative count, and ended up worse in a knight-vs-bishop ending, until Scott miscalculated on a sac-a-piece-to-promote-the-pawn tactic and realized a second later that the pawn could still be stopped (Bd4xb2?? Nd3xb2 and if e3-e2 then Nb3-d3 gets back in time). Chris won the section ahead of Patrick Sciacca, who lost a piece to Lawyer Times (...Re8-Re1+ Kg1-g2 Re1xBc1 Rxc1 Qg5+) but got a mating attack in return, with Lawyer's king trapped behind a Black pawn on g7 and White pawn on g6 and facing a marauding queen.

In the second section, Kyle Clayton and Jason Rihel engaged in a slow maneuvering battle until Jason suddenly dropped a piece (...d7-d5?? Qd1-a4+ and Qa4xBa6). The position was too closed for Kyle to immediately take advantage of it, though, and when Jason in desperation sacked a pawn to create a passed b-pawn, it looked like he might be able to swindle a draw if not more. With minutes left on the clock, Kyle gave back the piece to emerge two pawns ahead, and converted the victory in a time scramble to take clear first place. Meanwhile William Smirnov played a stylish double sac (Rf1xNf6 g7xf6 Bd3xh7+) against Evan Sonkin to gain an irresistible mating attack, which certainly inspired me to go make sure I know what to do against the Veresov.

In the third section, Natasha Christiansen fended off a dangerous h-pawn push from Jake Garbarino and secured a draw, while Kevin Croxen beat Edmund Staples to join the two of them for a three-way tie for first place.

And that's not even half of the games! It was great to see the club so active, and I hope next week's tournament is so well attended.

This and that

  1. The 13th Annual Charles Drafts Open will be held this coming Saturday, August 19th at the BCC. More recent readers of the blog not familiar with the Charles Drafts story can read it here.

  2. Chessbase has a story about a tournament held on mud flats during low tide. Players attempt to finish their games quickly, before the tide rushes in and drowns them. This got me thinking about an entire new category of chess -- Adventure Tournaments. Some of my initial ideas include matches held in a lion cage at the zoo, tournaments held in active war zones (e.g., 2006 Beirut Summer Open; did they hold a tournament in Sarajevo during the Bosnian conflict?), and blitz at the summit of Mount Everest. Any other ideas?

  3. At Chess for Blood, Patrick is out for some of Jeremy Silman's. He reviews Silman's 'The Amateur's Mind', calling it "the most condescending book ever."

  4. The Hungarian Knight has some fun with Google search referrals to his blog. At times, we've had some similar amusement here at BCC Weblog.

  5. I found a new way to use the Google Blog Search Engine to search for chess-related blogs and discovered about a dozen new ones (new to me, anyway) -- mostly French and Spanish ones. Check out the listings for recent updates. At the same time, we say goodbye to ten bloggers who have become estranged from their keyboards -- most notably, Knight Errant Old Fart; sidebar residents Perceptual Pawn and Der Alter Goniff; King's Gambit, Delaware Chess Weblog, and The Chessic Musings of the Manley Nick.

    Update: Still coming across new finds with the search engine approach including a new blog from GM Nigel Davies, a new Knight who seems to have been previously discovered by Generalkaia, and a few others now in the general listings.

Reminds me of the Reubens-Landey

No wonder it's so hard to make a living playing chess. You pay hard earned cash for the opportunity to win nothing.

Friday, August 11, 2006

A critical position

So, I was having dinner with Gary Kasparov at one of those local Italian restaurants with the red checkerboard tablecloths. After the food arrived, it took him 40 minutes to respond to my request to pass the salt.

How much for the movie rights?

The Chess-playing puppets from a story of India's literary genius enthralled an audience of children and adults on the 125th birth anniversary of Munshi Premchand, one of India's most outstanding literary figures of the 20th century.

A theatre group in northern Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, the home state of Premchand, suitably marked the occasion by enacting two of his stories in a puppet show.

"Shatranj Ke Khiladi" (The chess players), is set in colonial India and dwells on the politics of expansion by the British and the division of local Indian rulers.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

It was bound to happen

Drugs may or may not help you play better chess, but if we test, some will be caught.
The professional chess world was rocked today when 13 year old chess prodigy, Bobby Baines was disqualified for testing positive for steroids.

Clayton Groman, Director of the United States Chess Federation announced during a press conference from his offices in Crossville, Tennessee that Baines ... [is] under suspicion for blood doping and taking drugs on the USCF list of banned substances.

"We've had Mr. Baines in our crosshairs for quite some time," said Groman. "We first became suspicious when we noticed that he was becoming much more violent during matches ..."
Read "Anabolic Steroids Invade the World of Professional Chess."

What you're missing without satellite radio

Highlights from the Howard Stern Radio Show:

Howard's Movie Review And Chess Playing. 06/26/06. 6:30am

Why we need better journalism schools

A case of partially burying the lead to point out a less than important part of the story:

Man killed at Pomona motel 'was pretty good at chess'

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Tightening the screws

No more free rides at the Internet Chess Club. In a post about the recent price increase for membership, Daland mentions that the ICC is "doing away with Guest play too." Previously, they limited access to members only and the same is now true for their video lectures as well.

Personally, I never felt compelled to purchase a membership though I have played as a guest on occasion and I did enjoy and the videos when they were free. I suppose I'll miss the free services, but not enough to add an additional annual expense to my chess budget. What about you?

Product reviewers wanted

Daniel Borgmann is working on developing a new chess viewer named Chessmonk. He's looking for feedback on his project.

Thoughts on the "ideal" chess interface would be appreciated, but judging from the lack of replies to my last blog posting, I doubt that any chess players are reading my blog.

Let's send a few his way.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Brian Salomon wins the 2006 Reubens Landey Championship

In the 5th and decisive round Brian Salomon defeated Bryant Vernon to earn 4.5 points and the title.

Bryant with 3.5 points dropped into the third spot.

Jason Rihel nudged Simon Warfield to take 4 points and second place.

Following the Weaver Adams, the Reubens Landey is the second qualifier in the championship cycle. So, Brian will be invited to play in the BCC annual championship (initiated in 1919). Most likely Jason will be invited, and there is a possibility Bryant will also.

Congratulations to all the winners and thanks for all who played in this entertaining tournament.
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Inside the US Open

I just came across a new chess blogger who is providing daily insider reports from the US Open (or the 107th as he prefers to call it). While DrewG is focusing primarily on his own games, he is providing some interesting background and color. For example: I don't get this at all and have never seen it in a chess tournament before but, there was a group of younger players, I believe all female which is a rare sighting itself at a chess tourney, that had on complete kabuki-esque face and body paint. Some in white face paint and red arms, others in all red with sparkly crap in their hair. What the?? It was fun at first I'm sure as they walked into the hall and attracted a bit of attention.

And this:
I had the unfortunate luck of playing my game in the vicinity of someone working their "chessfunk" pretty strong. This round was brought to you by the letters "P" and "U". To generalize, some in the chess-playing community have a dubious relationship with soap and water. I happened to be seated near someone going through a divorce with their Lever2000.
Check out The Royal Game.


Heading to the Marriott in Springfield, Massachusetts this Labor Day weekend for the 2006 New England Open? Are you in for a surprise when you get there.

Harold Dondis of The Boston Globe reports that the venue has been changed, but not in time to update the publicity:

The New England Open, regularly held on Labor Day weekend, is having venue and publicity trouble. Originally the tourney was planned for the Marriott Hotel in Springfield but organizer Joe Sparks reported that he was unable to complete the arrangements. This left a gap in one of New England's most prestigious tourneys. The Massachusetts Chess Association (MACA) has jumped into the breach and rescheduled the competition to be held at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel, 99 Erdman Way, Leominister.

Unfortunately, publicity had already been issued for Springfield, including a detailed advertisement in the July issue of Chess Life. This cannot be changed, and it could be a serious matter for people journeying to Springfield only to find an empty playing site.

If you discover yourself in Springfield staring at an empty ballroom, you might find these directions helpful -- only 75 miles to cover before the first round begins.

Immigration Update

Following up on this post, Getting To 2000 reports that asylum seeking, illegal alien NM Alexander Stamnov is back in Chicago playing in the US Open. This got me thinking ... if you can play chess for a living, shouldn't unrated players be referred to as undocumented workers? :)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Knights sign 2005 MVP

In what can only be considered a move of Steinbrenner-esque proportions, it would appear that the New York Knights have secured the services of free agent GM Pascal Charbonneau for the upcoming US Chess League season. Pascal was named league MVP in 2005 after leading the Baltimore Kingfishers to the first ever USCL championship.

Pascal Charbonneau

While final team rosters are not due until August 20th, the Knights' preliminary line-up includes Charbonneau at the top. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed, though it's worth keeping in mind the league's strict salary cap (i.e., no one has any money!).

As for the Boston Blitz, their preliminary roster includes five names:

  1. GM Larry Christiansen - Larry will again be leading the Blitz into action

  2. IM Igor Foygel - An original member of last year's team, Igor was unable to play in any of team's matches due to family circumstances

  3. FM Steven Winer - The Blitz introduced their "Secret Weapon" late last season to take Foygel's place on the roster

  4. NM Charles Riordan - The current BCC Champion had a solid season in 2005, playing mostly on Board 3

  5. NM Ilya Krasik - Last season there was much talk about Ilya being of master strength. Now he has the initials to prove it

Several names from last season's roster are missing. In particular, newly minted GM Eugene Perelshteyn was the Blitz's most consistent performer last year going 2.5-0.5 with a performance rating 247 points above his USCL rating. Others on last year's squad but not on the 2006 preliminary roster are IM Josh Freidel, FM Bill Kelleher, and BCC president FM Paul MacIntyre.

Disclaimer: BCC Weblog provides independent coverage of the United States Chess League. It is not affiliated with the USCL or the Boston Blitz.

Don't forget to flush

From Alaska, a chess set made entirely from plumbing supplies...

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Reubens-Landey leaders after Round 4

3.5 Brian Salomon (2020)
3.5 Bryant Vernon (1909)

3.0 Jason Rihel (1903)

2.5 Simon Warfield (2179)
2.5 Daniel Schmidt (1824)

Six others with 2 or less points

Preliminary pairings for the final round

Vernon vs. Salomon
Rihel vs. Warfield
Schmidt vs. Lee
Nutzman vs. Christiansen
Rozhansky vs. Oresick

Friday, August 04, 2006

Notes from the 'sphere

  1. zenpawn shares his strategy for eating vegan during a four-day chess tournament.

  2. The Hungarian Knight continues the discussion on children's chess, competitiveness and whether it's important to have winners and losers with "Winning Isn't Everything." You may want to read the preceding posts first -- from BCC Weblog "With no winners, isn't everyone a loser?" and from The Chess Mind "You're All Winners! All of You! (Or are You?)."

  3. J'adoube confirms that "400 points in 400 days" isn't just a marketing slogan. In fact, he's entitled to a 72 day vacation if he so pleases.

  4. What do you suppose James Wilson is going to blog about now that he has reached "Z"?

  5. With Castro in the news again, Michael Goeller attempts to clarify the historical record regarding the Cuban Dictator's game with Bobby Fisher -- fascinating pictures and analysis.

  6. His days as an e-mail spammer presumably past, Braden Bournival has returned to the local tournament circuit with a tie for first in the 56th New Hampshire Open.

  7. There has been lots of action in the chess blog listings as of late. Among the new additions you'll find two blogs named Chess Improvement, The Center Square (a Kenilworth Chess Club member), Chess Crusade (seeking the holy grail of chess excellence, no doubt), My Chess Games (which three days in, doesn't include any games), and several Spanish blogs primarily from Uruguay (some of which can be found in the new Non-English Chess Blogs section of the sidebar).

  8. Like last summer, many blogs have also been heading in the opposite direction -- to inactive status, e.g, Bobby Fischer Chess Blog, Chess Corner, JDK Blog and Chess Vault. Most notably, after showing quite a bit of patience, I finally removed GMs Chabanon and Charbonneau from the sidebar.

Minor League Chess

From an interview with Grant Johnson, pitcher for the Daytona Cubs -- a Chicago Cubs Class A affiliate:
Chess? How many guys in the clubhouse play chess?

There's probably about five of us right now. It's like anything else. The more you play, the better you get. Some guys are coming around and playing a lot better.

Who's the best?

When Jake was here, I'd say it was me or Olin Wick, but since (Paul) Schappert came on the team I'd have to say he's the best.

So you guys are the cerebral type?

Yeah, we're the brain trust of the clubhouse.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Two arrested for transporting chess set

It's actually true, but I may have left out part of the story. Let's see.
Sudesh and Deo Rampersad of Bedasie Street in Enterprise, Chaguanas, appeared before Magistrate Avason Quinlan in the Port-of-Spain Fourth Court charged with trafficking cocaine....

In court yesterday, four packets with the cocaine were produced along with a wooden chess set. The cocaine, which weighed 6.8 kilos was valued at $3 million.
Read "Drugs in chess set" from Trinidad Newsday.

Why chess and religion are not the same

The blog Disputations points out that while " chess, a bishop can only move diagonally," in the church, bishops can move both up and sideways. Sideways, you ask?

The post provides the following explanation:

At this point, I'm only interested in one possibility for such a sideways move. Bishop Edward Dominic Fenwick, OP -- founder of the Dominican Province of St. Joseph in the United States, first Bishop of Cincinnati, and namesake of my Lay Dominican chapter -- is currently buried in a cemetery associated with neither the Archdiocese of Cincinnati nor the Dominicans, and there has been some talk of a more fitting resting place...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Does Chess disprove feminist doctrine?

In "Womenism, Chess Fairness and Sinisterism", Bruce Walker argues that women's relative lack of success in chess versus men challenges the philosophical underpinnings of the feminist movement:
In January 2003, I wrote an article "Womenism and Chess Fairness" in which I noted that because men have a strong innate superiority over women in purely spatial analytical activities like chess, no woman would ever become the best chess player in the world....

In October 2004, I wrote a follow-up article "Womenism and Chess Fairness - Redux." In this I observed that the differences between men and women accounted for the social differences between men and women. In short, I utterly repudiated the totalitarian doctrine that the reason women have not "succeeded" is because men have "oppressed" then. Chess is immune to such oppression. It is pure logic. It can be played anonymously by mail. Persecuted groups often do better, not worse, than privileged groups in playing chess.
We report; you decide.

The Expert Mind

Philip E. Ross has a very readable and informative article on the nature of expertise in chess in Scientific American (August, 2006).

Effortful study seems to be the critical line.

It is a feature article available online at Scientific American.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The smell must be just awful

Based on this article from Trend - The Azerbaijan News Agency, it seems that some Grandmasters not invited to the Biel Chess Festival are participating in an alternative event in the Swiss city of Bile.

What do you suppose they served for dinner at the opening ceremony of the Bile event? I'm guessing liver and onions.

USCL announces 2006 schedule

Clocks will start for the second season of the United States Chess League on Monday, August 28th at 9:00pm EDT with the two expansion teams -- the Tennessee Tempo and the Seattle Sluggers -- facing off. The rest of the league begins their season two days later on Wednesday, August 30th. All matches will be broadcast at the Internet Chess Club.

Two notable changes in this year's schedule:
  1. While most matches will be played on Wednesday evenings, each week a single match is scheduled for Monday Night. Perhaps the commissioner is looking to resurrect Howard Cossell to provide the play by play.
  2. With a larger league this year, inter-divisional play will be more limited prior to the playoffs. Each team will play their divisional rivals twice and face-off against only two opponents from the other division. Depending on the relative strength of the teams, this may confer an advantage to some teams in their divisional races.
Highlights of the Boston Blitz season include a Monday Night matchup against the New York Knights in week 3, a season finale against the defending champion Baltimore Kingfishers, and inter-divisional matches against Miami and Tennessee:

2006 Boston Blitz Schedule
(bold indicates team has White on boards 1 and 3; all ET [GMT-5])

Wed. 8/30 7:30pm - Miami Sharks
Wed. 9/06 7:00pm - Philadelphia Masterminds
Mon. 9/11 7:00pm - New York Knights
Wed. 9/20 7:15pm - Philadelphia Masterminds
Wed. 9/27 7:00pm - Carolina Cobras
Wed. 10/04 7:15pm - Baltimore Kingfishers
Wed. 10/11 8:15pm - Tennessee Tempo
Wed. 10/18 7:00pm - New York Knights
Wed. 10/25 7:00pm - Carolina Cobras
Wed. 11/01 7:15pm - Baltimore Kingfishers

Disclaimer: BCC Weblog provides independent coverage of the United States Chess League. It is not affiliated with the USCL or the Boston Blitz.

Note to Bloggers: Let me know if you are planning to provide coverage of the USCL in general or any team in particular. If there is a critical mass of coverage in the blogosphere this year, I'll make some efforts to generate outside publicity for it.

Breaking News

Caissa's Confabulations ( appears to be the most recent victim of a blog highjacking.