Friday, December 31, 2010

2010 in review

2010 was an active year at the Boylston. We sponsored more than 110 events. 312 chess players competed in at least one event at the club. During an average month about 130 people participated in our tournaments.

On Dec 31, we had 134 current members and in the course of the year 2010, we had 226 members. Among the members and players were 3 GMs, 4 IMs, 29 Masters, and 38 Experts.

Stop by the club and play some chess in 2011. You'll find some good matches in the new decade.

Happy New Year!

Living Memorial Chess Foundation Benefit Tournament, - Jan 2

Is your child interested in developing their chess skills against other players their age and skill level?

Please consider having your child play in the

Living Memorial Chess Foundation
Benefit Tournament
on Sunday, January 2nd.

All proceeds benefit the Living Memorial Chess Foundation which provides free chess sets to schools. Jordan Shapiro has organized this tzedakah (charity) project as part of his Bar Mitzvah.

There are three "unrated" sections (8&U, 12&U and 16&U) which are not USCF rated and do not require any memberships and one USCF rated section which requires memberships in the United States Chess Federation and the Massachusetts Chess Association.

Info and registration here:

Event Organizer: Jordan Shapiro *
Event Location: Temple Sinai. 25 Canton Street, Sharon, MA 02067
[Click Here for Directions ]
Event Date: Sunday, 1/2/2011
Time Control: 4-SS, G/30
Rounds Time: 9:30
Prize Info: Trophies for each section.
Inquiry: Phone: Susan Shapiro 781-956-7738
Requirement: USCF membership requirement for the rated section. **

Entry Fee: $20

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Herb Healy Open House - Saturday, January 1, 2011

Herb Healy Open House
Saturday, January 1

Please come to the annual BCC open house, see some old friends, make some new ones, play some chess (rated or unrated), and enjoy a free lunch. It's a great way to start the 2011 chess year.

Registration isn't until 10:45 so you can sleep in from your celebrating the night before.

Saturday, January 1st:
Herb Healy Open House

  • 4SS; G/40;
  • 2 sections: Rated and Non-Rated;
  • Entry fee: $25, $20 BCF members if received by 12/30, $5 extra on site.
  • Registration: 10:45 to 11:40.
  • Rounds: 11:45, 1:20, 3:00, 4:40.
  • Free food and drink served all day long to tournament players.
  • Send advance entries to: Herb Healy Open House, 240B Elm St. Suite B9 Somerville, MA 02144


Herbert E. Healy was born on July 13, 1885 and died on Wednesday, January 9, 1974 in Boston. [Thanks to George Mirijanian for providing July 13 as his exact day of birth.]

He was 88 years old and one of the original Charter members of the Boylston Chess Club at its official organization in 1919. He was Secretary Emeritus at his death.

“The Club was saddened by the death of Herbert Healy, Charter Member and Secretary Emeritus, on Wednesday night, January 9, 1974. This occurred only days after the Herbert Healy Appreciation Tournament (the 30-30 New Year’s Event) and Testimony was held in his honor. Wednesday had a 10”-12” snowfall, but Mr. Healy showed up at the Union and peeked into the Chess Quarters. [ He went to his home in the South End on Brookline Ave.] He died in his sleep. (Only Dave Hudnut, in the Providence Rhode Island area, remains as a Charter Club Member.)”

In 1980 the New Year's 30/30 was permanent dedicated to him as Herbert E. Healy Open House. Herbert E. Healy along with Harry Lyman, Irvin Yaffee, Myer Edelstein and others customarily provided food to the participants of this event.

This information was taken from minutes of the club from January 27, 1974 and talking with Mr. Harry Lyman and William Lukowiak in past years. There are more testimonies about Mr. Healy that I am omitting.

Bemardo Iglesias

December 2007

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Larry Christiansen is a fighter - no bull

I learned from Stephen Dann's column in the Telegram that Larry Christiansen is a fighter in more ways than chess:______________________________________________________________

Stephen Dann
Grandmaster Larry Christiansen of Cambridge was once a bullfighter? The famous photo from a vintage Chess Life cover was part of Edward Winter’s Chess Explorations featuring chess players with some unusual pets, including photos of early 20th-century world champion Jose Capablanca on horseback, found at

Read more:

Images from:

Edward Winter's Chess Explorations (54)
20.12.2010 – The bullfighter is revealed as Larry Christiansen. In giving the answers to the picture quiz the Editor of Chess Notes adds further illustrations on the theme of chessplayers and animals, including several shots of Alekhine’s Siamese cats and, alarmingly, a kibitzing circus lion. The quiz prizes are DVDs signed by masters at the London Chess Classic, and the three winners are now announced.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Time for a Facelift

It's long overdue, but over the next week or so, we will be migrating the blog into the new Google template infrastructure (well, it was new a few years ago). This change will bring several positives including additional features on the sidebar, easier administration and a return to the Google commenting system (which should make it easier for many of you to make comments). There will be downsides as well; perhaps, most significantly, it is likely that we will lose the existing comment history of the blog. While this is regrettable, a bit of research on my part has determined that transferring the historical comments to Google isn't feasible (unless you happen to be a Google engineer) and maintaining our existing commenting system would cost the foundation at least $120/year.

Also, the days of maintaining comprehensive listings of chess blogs are over. Over the past several years the 'sphere has grown so large that this wasn't really possible anyway. So, going forward, we will attempt to maintain lists of blogs that link to Boylston Chess Club Weblog, and perhaps a few others like GM blogs, but that's it. There are plenty of good tools out there like Technorati and Google Blog Search for finding the rest.

This transformation will be a process and it will take awhile to rebuild all the sidebar features and add new ones. So don't be surprised if the blog looks different and even incomplete for awhile. In fact, there is no guarentee that it will look the same at all - I just might decide to experiment with a whole new look and feel (in fact, I probably will).

As always, your feedback is welcome (assuming we have a working commenting system).

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Congratulations to Sage School Chess Players

We noticed this article about some young BCC members:

Nick, Eric, Kevin, Matt and Daniel are frequent players and members at the Boylston and we congratulate their terrific national showing.


Foxborough’s Sage School students win two trophies at national chess tournament

Over the weekend of Dec. 10-12, seven members of The Sage School chess team traveled to Orlando, Florida for the United States Chess Federation’s K-12 National Championship tournament.

The Sage players brought home two trophies.

The seventh grade team of Nick Plotkin, Eric Hu, Kevin Hu, and Matt Lee finished fourth in the nation and the fourth grade team of Derek Meuth, Shubhum Giroti, and Daniel Plotkin finished eighth.

The Sage School is a private independent school dedicated to providing an educational program that serves the needs of academically gifted girls and boys, ages 4 to 14, in the greater Boston and Providence areas.

The Sage School draws students from over 40 different communities in three states, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.

Visit us online at

Friday, December 17, 2010

Boston and New England well represented in USCL Game of the Year Contest

The wildcard slots are finalized for the USCL Game of the Year. Twenty games from around the League will compete for top honors. Click HERE for the complete rundown of games.

Once again the Boston area is well-represented (8 of 20!), with winning games competing in the contest. Hardly a surprise given the success of both teams, the Champions, the New England Nor'easters (with 3 games) and the Boston Blitz (5 games).

From the Boston Blitz:

Larry Christiansen -- Jesse Kraai, Week Six 1-0. Castling on opposite wings, hanging pieces, an elegant attacking finish. What more could you ask for? Despite this, my gut feeling is that this game is barely in the Top 10. This game did win the Game of the Week in a relatively strong week, but I personally liked Lendermann-Becerra and Zilberstein-Esserman from that week more. For a rabid pro- or anti- Esserman stance, see almost any comment thread in the USCL this year.

IM Jonathan Schroer- GM Larry Christiansen, Week 8 0-1. Larry played a beautiful combination as a bolt from the blue. Adding to the quality of this combo, it did not lead to the immediate mate that many of the observers had assumed. Unfortunately, Larry butchered the last half of the game, perhaps even slipping into some drawn opposite colored bishop positions. Maybe it cracks the Top 15, but certainly no better than that. One of the wild cards from Week 8 is a strong contender to finish in the Top 10 (see below).

Jorge Sammour-Hasbun - GM Giorgi Kacheishvili, Week 10, 1-0. A double pawn sac followed by relentless creative attacking a la Jorge. A contender for Game of the Year. I'll put it in my personal Top 3.

Ilya Krasik - Adithya Balasubramanian, Quarterfinals, 1-0. Krasik's best game, best prep, and best blog post of the year. I seriously doubt a Board 4 game is going to be a serious contender for Game of the Year, especially given the fewer number of games competing that week, but an entertaining game. Although Black didn't find the best continuations, I think this will finish in the Top 15, probably even ahead of Larry's Week 8 game.

Jorge Sammour-Hasbun - Sasha Kaplan, Wildcard, 1-0. Maybe I'm biased, but I like games in the Marshall Gambit. This one seems theoretically important. It also was a hair-line tightrope from win to loss, so even more plusses. A top 10 finish for this game, maybe even higher.

From the New England Nor'easters:

IM Sam Shankland - GM Julio Becerra, Championship, 1-0. Although this game clinched the championship victory for the New England Nor'easters, I predict this will not finish terribly high in the contest. Sam converted a tough opposite colored bishops ending into a win. I don't want to give it away, but several of us have been quietly concluding that Becerra had missed a least one and perhaps two concrete drawing lines in this game (stay tuned for analysis). If A players and experts without a computer can find drawing lines, so will the judges. I predict this finishes in places 20-15.

GM Giorgi Kacheishvili - IM Sam Shankland, Wildcard, 0-1 . Some people didn't like this game. I loved this game. Not only was it the culmination of very clever team prep led by David Vigorito, this unbalanced endgame is very difficult, instructive, and exciting as a fan. This is the kind of game that will get some very high votes and some very low votes (I am the exact opposite, but some people won't like that it was based in part on strong prep). Tough to say where it will land, but let's put it right in the #10 spot, no more, no less.

IM Robert Hungaski - IM Jonathan Schroer, Wildcard, 1-0. I didn't understand this game when I was watching it live, and I don't really understand this game replaying it now. I hands down love this game, especially since strong human and computer opinion seems to be that White was always doing well in the massive complications. I want to put it into the Game of the Year #1 spot, but prudence prevails -- I'll predict a Top 5 finish. Played between two GMs, or maybe GM Tal vs. GM Random, this game would have gotten more respect.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Fighter: Walter Driscoll

Yessiree, in theaters now, in the movie The Fighter, is our club's own Walter Driscoll.

How lethal is this guy? Well, he KO'd me at the chess board in our last five rated encounters, an unheard of feat. Okay, maybe that's not such a difficult feat, but nobody else has given me a shellacking like that.

I spoke with the celebrity himself, who told me to pay attention after the two brothers have been arrested, when our man the Court Officer will show Christian Bale who's boss (don't blink and don't be eating popcorn or you'll miss Walter's big moment).

Happy moviegoing!

Satisfied, Art? :-)

Friday, December 03, 2010

New England Nor'easters: The Year in Review

In case you missed it, read Charles Riordan's column in ChessCafe.

New England Nor'easters
The Year in Review

Library Book Highlight: Bobby Fischer vs. Rest of World

This week in his column at Chessbase, Edward Winter discusses the controversial book, Bobby Fischer vs. the Rest of the World, by Brad Darrach, and published in 1975.
Bobby sued over the publication of this book (the suit was eventually thrown out of court). Many chess people complained that the book was a work of fiction pretending to be non-fiction. Others thought that the crisp dialogue was certainly embellished, but that it had the basic attitude of Fischer nailed.
If you are a member of the Boylston Chess Club, you can read this once-sensational title yourself for FREE, by checking our copy out of the library. We have over 2000 chess related volumes available to our members to borrow, and by highlighting some of the interesting titles in a regular blog post, I hope to spark some interest in our collection.

Monday, November 29, 2010

GM Patrick Wolff to start his own Hedge Fund

Clarium's Amazing Chess Player Is Leaving Peter Thiel To Start A New Hedge Fund

Courtney Comstock | Nov. 29, 2010, 3:58 PM |

Clarium's Patrick Wolff is spinning out of the fund to form his own hedge fund, Grand Master Capital.

The fact that Wolff, a former general manager at the firm, is leaving underscores another bad year for Clarium, a fund which sprung out of the gate with amazing (+57.4%) returns but then began performing terribly.

This year alone Thiel has seen investors leave and his returns head into the double-digit negatives.

We've heard from an investor that most of the money in Clarium right now is Thiel's, so the fund shouldn't be damaged by the loss of a star manager like other hedge funds have been when star portfolio managers leave.

And the move must be amicable, because Clarium's founding manager, Peter Thiel, will seed the fund with $50 million.

Wolff's personal returns are a mystery at this point, but if his ability to play chess says anything about his investing skills (and he's expecting it to - his new fund, Grand Master Capital, is named for Wolff's title as a chess champion and international grand master), get ready to be amazed.

Wolff's ELO, his "batting average," is 2564, which is top-level. There's technically no "best" ELO rating, but if you're in the 2700s, you're among the best in the world.

Wolff is currently ranked number 393 in the world.

So in terms of vanity hedge funds names (which are usually names or initials or properties managers own), Wolff's is pretty awesome.

Read more:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Vonnegut Tribute As a Recap of the 2010 Nor'easters victory run

The following is a tribute piece to the Nor'easters season, in the style of Kurt Vonnegut, whose library just opened in Indianapolis. All of this happened, more or less. The chess parts, more or less, are true.

I have come unstuck in time.

It is late summer. I am in the Boylston Chess Club, watching the Nor'easters take on the Cobras. The masters and I are blinking at the chessboard of Vigorito-Simpson, move 10.

After 10.c5 Bxe5 11.dxe5 Nfd7 12.Qc1 Na6 13.Nd2 Qxc5 14.Qxc5 Ndxc5, Vigorito is down a pawn. He went on to win the game and clinch the match for the Nor'easters. So it goes.


Now I am sitting in a restaurant in Davis Square with a member of the Boston Blitz, Marc Esserman and a member of the Nor'easters, Charles Riordan. Marc is showing us a position on my tiny pocket chess board. Marc is unstuck in time, too, and now he is demonstrates on my shabby $5 flat magnetic set his future memory of his game with IM Zilberstein in Week 6. In his memory, the game went:
1.d4 d5 2.c4 e6 3.Nc3 c6 4.e4 dxe4 5.Nxe4 Bb4+ 6.Bd2 Qxd4 7.Bxb4 Qxe4+ 8.Be2 Na6 9.Ba5 f6 10.Qd8+ Kf7 11.0-0-0 b6 12.Bc3 e5 13.Bd3 Qxg2 14.Ne2 c5 15.Qd6 Bb7 16.Ng3 and Marc continues with a queen sacrifice that leads to a Game of the Year.

Unfortunately, future memories are as unreliable as past ones. When the game actually happened, IM Zilberstein went along up to 16. Bf5, lost more prosaically, and Marc only won Blog Post of the Week. That may have been worth more money. So it goes. I was pretty mad those two days later when I learned Marc's future memory was all a pack of foma.

Some might wonder how a Nor'easter and a Blitz player could have talked about upcoming matches without tearing off a jugular using bare teeth. The idea that the Boston teams hate each other is all a pack of foma, too.

Some other time in the future, the Nor'easters will also be well prepared against the New York Knights, anticipating the games on Boards 1+3 to spin the strong New York squad down to 4th place. So it goes. The Blitz are not the only team to prepare well.

Now I am watching the Blitz play the Nor'easters in Week 4. I'm in London. While I am lecturing at University College London, projecting behind me is this position from Cherniack-Krasik, Board 4, Week 4.

After 17.Qb3, Alex loses a pawn to Bxd2 18.Nxd2 Rxe2 19.Rxe2 Nxd4. He goes on to draw the game and the match. So it goes. It is the only draw during the regular season that New England suffers.

I talk to a Tramalfadorian about what it is like to watch a chess game in four dimensions.

It replies, "Consider what it is like to watch the chessgame in two dimensions, on your ICC, for example."


"Now consider what it is like to play the game in 3-D, on a board, with pieces."

"OK. I get that, too."

"Is there a difference in these two experiences?"

"Not really. They are pretty much the same. The vision and the touch are different. Otherwise, the problems are the same."

"Watching the chess board in 4 dimensions is nothing like going from 2D to 3D."

That is a jerk way to respond, so I ask for some clarity.

"For us, we saw the Blitz-Nor'easters week four match simultaneously with the Blitz-Nor'easters Semi-final match. The combinations that were happening in the other dimensions blew this Tramalfadorian's mind. That, and the parallel of the two Boston teams getting a draw in both matches. "

Of course this is all a pack of foma, but the Tramalfadorian wanted me to like it. They are not very good flirts.


Sometimes I wonder if the Internet could ever acheive consciousness. All those fiber optic neural connections firing. Ones and zeros slithering around coaxial cables to make a brain that becomes self-aware. I ask the Tramalfadorians about this.


"So sure about it?"


"Why not?"

"Have you read an internet chess blog comment section lately? Better chances for the mud of the Earth to become intelligent."

Since Christianity tells us intelligence did spring from the mud, I take that as a maybe.


When I'm stopped on the street, people ask me what I'm working on. I tell them a summary of the greatest team in USCL history. They always ask me what the USCL is. I tell them it stands for the United States Cricket League and that I am a fan from Sri Lanka. I don't, but trust me, this is a better method for getting a date. If you are reading my post, better try this foma over the truth. Let me know how it turns out.


In the Eighteenth Tweet of Bokonon, the Prophet says, "Break all the records to prove you are the best, and you will be hated by all the rest." So it goes.

In the Nineteenth Tweet of Bokonon, the Prophet says, "Make your own luck, or you'll be a sitting duck."

In the Twentieth Tweet of Bokonon, the Prophet says, "When you win, just sit quietly and grin. The loser gets to speak about how you are weak."

Maybe the losers only remember the future when they are better than you. Or maybe they are like the Tramalfadorans, winners in the other dimensions.


I am stuck now in other people's dreams. One dream I can see is this position from Hungaski vs. Sammour Hasbun in Nor'easters-Blitz Semi-Finals. Chess dreams can be the most painful dreams. Chess dreams and the ones where you are standing in your underwear in front of the classroom.
The win for Black is 23...Rxa1 24.Rxa1 cxb2! 25.Rb1 Bxb5+ 26.Kd2 Rd8+ 27.Kc3 Bd3. Instead Black played Bxb5 and eventually got mated, handing the draw and the match victory to New England. So it goes.


I am sitting in a coffeehouse sipping joe when an angry USCL (the chess kind) fan comes up to me to yell at me about this post. "Are you saying that the Nor'easters were lucky to have the best record and win the league championship?" I calmly quote the Fifth Tweet from the Prophet Bokonon. "Do not heed what on the internet you read."

"Sounds like you are saying luck to me."

"Look all around you- those little water droplets under a leaf, the lion's mane, my pinky finger digit. It's all luck, chuck."


Players that the Nor'easters didn't play:


GM Hikaru Nakamura

GM Yuri Shulman


GM Sergey Erenburg


GM Reiner Gonzalez

Charles Galofre


GM Magesh Panchanathan

Almost all the GMs of the Western Division

So it goes.

Here are some other players they didn't face: Bobby Fischer, Gata Kamsky, Alexander Onischuk, Magnus Carlson. Anatoly Karpov. Jason Rihel.


In the First Tweet of Bokonon, the Prophet, says, "It's all luck, chuck."


I am leaving the Nor'easters vs. Miami Sharks Final early, for I am tired. I ate some pizza, the result is unclear. The forfeit win was a boost, but as I leave NE's Alex looks worse on Board 4 (He lost. So it goes.), Sam maybe is at least a safe draw on Board 1 (He won. So it goes.), and the Hungaski game is repeating the position and declining draws (He won. So it goes.) Could still be a playoff and a long night ahead.

I walk home to my old apartment. I can see downtown from there, the solitary Prudential Tower cracking the sky. I still don't know the outcome of the New England match. Then I see Ilya Krasik, member of the perpetual #2 Boston Blitz, scramble up to the tippy-top of the Pru. He looks up at the heavens, thumbs his nose as a gesture of the pent up frustrations of watching the local upstarts take the prize, and freezes his body in place by taking the Ice-9.

So it goes.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ben Goldberg makes National Master

This weekend, at the 2010 Rhode Island Open, Ben Goldberg hit the magic 2201 rating, making him the latest area national master. The road was not easy-- he had to hold GM Ivanov to a draw in Round 3 and play two other master-level opponents to make this last push.

Ben has been a long-time player in Boylston Chess Club events, so we would like to congratulate him on this achievement.

Larry Christiansen in the hood

Because of rule changes in the US Championship the Boston chess public has enjoyed the presence of Larry Christiansen at local tournaments at BU and the BCF.

Last Saturday Larry won the $10 Open with four wins out of four games.

Larry said he had to really work hard for two of those victories and it really cool to see the three time US Champ compete head to head with us locals.

(Michelle Chen, Art Nugent, Bernhard Seehaus, and Anya Corke got to play a game with Larry for a $10 entry - not a bad deal. - editor's note.)

Thank you Larry hope to see you next week at the BCF.

Best Regards

Mike Griffin


(graphics by Bob Oresick)

Saturday, November 20, 2010


The local New England Nor'easters won the US Chess League Championship over the Miami Sharks 3-1. They were assisted by a forfeit win on Board 3, but Boards 1 and 2 pulled out convincing victories to solidify the result.

In front of a pizza-eating crowd of about 20 people, the Nor'easters finished off Miami to end an UNDEFEATED record-smashing season. Fittingly, only the Boston Blitz managed to twice nick them for draws. But with this Finals win, the Nor'easters have managed to do what the Boston Blitz haven't quite done-- win the championship.

Congrats to the New England Nor'easters on a spectacular season.

Stay tuned for more details.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Update: Saturday $10 Open and Nor'easters Pizza Party

Saturday event UPDATE-- A generous donation means the pizza will be free!

Following the final round of this weekend's $10 Open, the Boylston Chess Club will host a pizza party for the spectators that come to watch the New England Nor'easters take on the Miami Sharks.

If you want pizza and drinks, we will ask for a small donation of a few dollars. To avoid interrupting the final round of the $10 Open, pizzas will arrive only after the final game of the tourament has finished (around 7PM).

There will be food, drinks, commentary from several master level players, and high-quality games from the Eastern Champion New England Nor'easters.

Come for the $10 Open; stay for the special event.

Seven arrested for playing chess

A squad of cops in bulletproof vests swooped into an upper Manhattan park and charged seven men with the "crime" of playing chess in an area off-limits to adults unaccompanied by kids -- even though no youngsters were there.

"Is chess really something that should be considered a threat to the neighborhood?" Inwood resident and mom Joanne Johnson wrote Mayor Bloomberg, the City Council and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly after the raid.

Read the full article.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Saturday, Nov 17th-- $10 Open and Nor'easters vs. Sharks in Final

Chess fans--

Some of us may have cheated on chess with a Rubik's Cube last weekend, but this Saturday's full day of chess at the Boylston Chess Club in Davis Square is not to be missed!

First, you can still use the Paypal button on the right panel to get the $10 rate for this Saturday's $10 Open. Sign up by Thursday to get the discounted rate.

Also, starting at 6PM (the middle of Round 4), we will project the games from the New England Nor'easters vs. Miami Sharks US Chess League Finals in the Skittles Room. After the $10 Open tournament is over, we will move to the main hall.

Come join us for an inexpensive chess tournament followed by live discussions of the remarkable US Chess League Final, featuring the local expansion upstarts, the New England Nor'easters!

Support the Bolyston Chess Club webmaster Alex Cherniack on Board 4, the newly minted Boylston Chess Club Champion Chris Chase on Board 3, and the talented IMs Hungaski and Shankland on Boards 2 and 1! The Nor'easters have already had an historic run; come watch to see if they can cap that amazing season with one more win.

Can a shark survive such a nasty storm?

Stay tuned all this week for even more details for these events.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Facebook Like Buttons

Please notice that you can now "Like" individual blog posts on Facebook. Just click the buttons.

Also, remember to join our Facebook Group page (link on the right). We are sending group members updates about upcoming chess events.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Alternative Nerd Event-- 2010 MIT Rubik's Cube Tournament

There are lots of games to distract nerds from playing chess. One that interested me starting this summer was the classic puzzle, the Rubik's Cube. It comes in many forms, incuding a monstrous 11x11x11 cube!

My brain hurts just looking at this thing.

But the classic tournament event is known as speedcubing. The goal is simple-- solve the 3x3x3 cube from a random position as quickly as possible. When I saw there was a competition at MIT this weekend, I had to give it a try.

Let me start by comparing the Rubik's Cube event to a chess tournament. There are some key differences. First and foremost is that the Cube events are more introspective than a chess tournament. In a chess tournament, you are playing against other people in a direct competition. In some ways, your performance in chess is dictated not only by the quality of your play but other over the board factors that you do not 100% control. For example, even very poor chessplayers have a somewhat reasonable hope of beating much stronger competition. How many players under 2000 do you know who have scalped strong IMs or GMs after their opponents have blundered or fallen into a bad position? I personally have lost to players rated more than 1000 rating points below me because of errors. When I sit down across from a GM or a player rated 1000, I have in the back of my mind the possibility that I could win or lose if the stars are aligned.

In the Rubik's Cube events, you have ZERO delusions about where you stand, because the event is more like a race. I have many friends who can run marathons, but none of them have any hope of winning. Winning a marathon for most people is not the point-- personal achievement, gaining a personal best, maybe even just finishing the race and earning an official time is the goal. Because the goal is not really to beat the other person, in a race like the Rubik's Cube tournament, the goals are more aimed inward at beating your own goals, setting new best times.

One way a chess tournament and the Cube tournament are similar: they bring together people with a common interest to share in that interest. I learned about new types of puzzles. Some families brought storage tubs filled with Rubik's cubes, pyramids, tetrahedrons, and snakes. It was really a lot of fun.

So, how did I do? My personal best time is around 36 seconds, but I average much closer to 1 minute. My personal goal at this event was therefore to average 1 minute.

Here I am solving my first of five cubes. At 23.34 seconds, I am already off the pace to make the 2nd round.

And here I am after my first official time: 1:36:43. In fact, my cube is off by one row, so I got a 2 second penalty added for a first official time of 1:38:43.
The little boy judge says, "That was good!" I'm laughing because solving the cube in front of a room full of other people put me some 30 seconds off my normal pace! I didn't anticipate that this would matter so much.

On my 3rd try, I did hit sub-one minute (58:42), which gives me a World Ranking of 9072. My average time was a slow 1:19:79, which puts me in 8635th place in the world, and 61st out of 70 in this event! Funny how in chess, my world ranking is much lower than this (by absolute number, not by percentile). How do I compare with the best? This weekend, the USA single 3x3x3 record was set by Rowe Hessler at 6.94 seconds! The World Record is 6.77 seconds:

There is some comfort in knowing that my aged muscle synapses will never let me get even close to threatening the world record. But next time, I am going to average below 1 minute!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Breaking News-- Nor'easters tie the Blitz, Advance to the FINAL!

Breaking news:

With wins from Hungaski on Board 2 and Cherniack on Board 4, the New England Nor'easters have advanced to the Final over cross-town rivals, the Boston Blitz! Winning the regular season proved crucial, as their draw odds made the difference in this one.

Stay tuned for a recap and a preview of the Final, which is scheduled for Nov. 20th at 4:00 PM.

UPDATE: Miami wins the West! New England vs. Miami in the Final!

BU Open 2010

The 16th annual BU Open 2010 was held on Saturday, Nov 6. It was an overcast New England autumn day, but the glass windows of the BU student union backcourt venue allowed allow some natural light through. The playing area had just been renovated this past summer - along with the food court, and so provided a pleasant environment for the tournament.

107 players participated –a record turnout for a BU Open (Open = 36, U1900 =35, and U1600 =36.) The Open section was strong with 9 masters, 5 FMs, an IM (Hungaski) and a GM (Christiansen).

One of the most enjoyable features of the tournament is the number of chess friends who return year after year. Alex Kurjatko (a former BUCC president) took a break from his 4th year medical school internship in NJ to come up and play. And Barry Lai (a former BUCC president) emailed me at 3:40 in the morning saying he needed a 1st round bye to get some sleep, but still made it.

Frank Frazier broke with his Monday Night BCC mostly tradition to play. Tony Cortizas put down his camera and picked up the pieces in his first time playing in the BU Open. Mike Griffin continues to come to our event after he broke a 19 hiatus from playing chess (while raising his family) to resume playing chess at the BU Open years ago. Harold Dondis supports us year after year - his step is lighter, his hearing softer, but his game is sharp sharp sharp.

Tony DiNosse took a break from caring for his hospitalized father to play.

Prof Timothy Sage from Northeastern (the champion of the 1st BU Open in 1995) was persuaded to play again by the 8 man group from the NE chess club.

Bill Kelleher returned again this year and won his fifth title.

I could go on, but you get the idea. … And of course, there were new faces – ten people played in their first rated tournament. Contingents came up from Connecticut and down from Maine (or is it up from down Maine). This is one of those gatherings of the chess community that many of us look forward to and enjoy.

Bernardo Iglesias, one of the premier TDs in New England, did an admirable job again this year and continues to be a major reason for the smooth flow of the event.

The executive board of the BU Chess club, led by President Austin Collins, Edwin Jung, Matt Messer, and Ben Burkholder spent hours before and after the games setting up the room and then cleaning up and restoring it to its pristine condition (following a schematic Austin – an engineering student – had drawn.)

We paid out over a thousand dollars in prizes and still raised some money for entry fees for BU teams in the Amateur Team East – thank you all for that support. Note Bene: The BCF helped make the event possible by sponsoring it under its affiliation with the USCF. The BU chess club is grateful to the BCC for all its support to BU and to the greater Boston Chess community.

For 2010, there were four winners;

IM Robert Hungaski (a star on the USCL Noreasters)

FM William Kelleher (a BU alum and now 5 time winner)

NM Alex Fikiet (who the previous week won the Greater Boston Open)

NM Andrew Wang (a BU student – at the BU Academy)

Congratulations to all!


Results are summarized below, and you can visit USCF for the complete crosstable.


1st/2nd $525/3 IM Robert Hungaski (3.5), FM William Kelleher (3.5), NM Alex Fikiet (3.5)

Top U2200 $135 Andrew Wang (3.5) *


1st $100 Thomas Hartmayer (4)

2nd $50/7 Michael Raphael (3), Matthew Morra (3), Wesley Parker (3), Seth Lieberman (3), Mark Kaprielian (3), Charlie Fauman (3) , Nicholas Plotkin (3)


1st $100 Eduardo Valadares (4)

2nd $50 Barry Lai (3.5) **

Top U1200 $50 Ben Hansel (2.5)

Allan Ong Top BU undergrad $50 Lino Fabiani (4) ***

Top College University of Connecticut (10.5)

IM Robert Hungaski (3.5), NM Alex Fikiet (3.5), Matt Morra (3.5)

Top High School Cape Elizabeth ME High School (6.5)

Benjamin Hansel (2.5), Colin Smith (2), Matt Reale-Hatem (2), Brett Parker (2)

Top Primary School Sage (7)

Kevin Hu (3), Nicholas Plotkin (3), Daniel Plotkin (1), Eric Hu (1), Matthew R Lee (1)

* Andrew tied for 1st/2nd, but earned the higher U2200 money.

** Barry contributed his winnings to the BUCC. Thanks.

*** Lino entered as unrated and so could not get the class prize with Eduardo.


I also shot some pictures – view them here.

Amici summus, Robert Oresick

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Nakamura Breaks the Unofficial Top 10 List

Although not official, a US player, GM Hikaru Nakamura, has broken into the unofficial FIDE Top 10 list. With his quick start at the Tal Memorial, he is now #10, just ahead of Radjabov, Wang Yue, and Boris Gelfand.

As far as I know, this hasn't happened since Kamsky. Gata Kamsky was a Top 10 player reaching #4 in the 90s. Of course, Kamsky emigrated to the US already an accomplished chess player as a boy , but Hikaru was 2 years old when he first came to the US. That makes Hikaru the first US-trained player to break the Top 10 since Bobby Fischer. I think Larry Christiansen once broke the top 30, but that would be the most recent American player to get even close.... can anyone confirm that?

Correction: Yasser Seirawan was #10 in 1990 (see comment section). He was also US trained.

Unfortunately, moving farther up the list will require big improvements; there is an interesting gap of almost 20 rating points between #9 and #10, and only 3 points between #10 and #14! And of course, not only does the rest of the tournament still have to be played, but the official list also will not be out for some time. A lot can still change.

Check out:

Rank Name Track Rating Change # games # events Born @ FIDE
01 Carlsen off 2812,0 +10 10 1 1990 id-card
02 Aronian off 2809,1 +8,1 3 1 1982 id-card
03 Anand off 2808,4 +4,4 10 1 1969 id-card
04 Kramnik off 2790,1 -0,9 3 1 1975 id-card
05 Grischuk off 2775,3 +4,3 3 1 1983 id-card
06 Topalov off 2774,8 -11,2 10 1 1975 id-card
07 Mamedyarov off 2767,3 +4,3 3 1 1985 id-card
08 Karjakin off 2764,4 +4,4 3 1 1990 id-card
09 Ivanchuk off 2764,0 0 0 0 1969 id-card
10 Nakamura off 2746,6 +5,6 3 1 1987 id-card
11 Ponomariov off 2744,0 0 0 0 1983 id-card
11 Radjabov off 2744,0 0 0 0 1987 id-card
13 Wang Yue off 2741,6 -14,4 10 1 1987 id-card
14 Gelfand off 2737,0 -4 3 1 1968 id-card
15 Gashimov off 2736,0 +3 10 1 1986 id-card

Saturday, November 06, 2010

$10 Open November 20th

Sign up now for the $10 Open, using either the Paypal button below or the button in the right-hand panel. Be sure to include your name and USCF ID#.

$10.00 Open- Register

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

BU Open -- Sat Nov 6

You are cordially invited to play in the

16th annual

Boston University Open

Boston University Open

(in association with the Boylston Chess Foundation)

Sat., Nov. 6, 2010

65 players have pre-registered (see below),

including a strong open section.

It should be a good day for chess.

Email your entry by Friday and save $10.


4-SS; G/60; 3 Sections: Open; U1900; U1600

Boston University,


George Sherman Union

775 Commonwealth Ave. Boston 02215

MACA information:


Parking is across University road just before the BU bridge on the same side of Comm. Ave. as the George Sherman Union. You must pay the attendant $6 for the day.

E F:

  • $15 for BU students (BUID)
  • $20 by email by Friday Nov 5
  • $30 for all others at site
  • GM's, IM's, and past winners of the Open Section play for free.
Cash Prizes: based on Entries. In past years the prize fund has been more than $1000 and the first prize around $300. Because prize checks will be mailed by Boston University, winner must provide home address and social security number to receive a check.

Open section: 1st & 2nd / Top under 2200

U1900 section: 1st & 2nd

U1600 section: 1st & 2nd l/ Top under 1200

Allan Ong Prize for the top undergraduate college student:

Trophies for 3 player teams: Top college / Top high school / Top elementary or middle school

NC, NS, W.

Reg: 9:00 - 9:45 am

Rds: 10:00, 12:30, 2:45, 5:00


email name, section desired, USCF number to


Pre-registered players, Weds.

SwissSys Wall Chart. BU Open 2010: Open

#Name/Rtng/IDRd 1Rd 2Rd 3Rd 4Tot
1GM Larry Christiansen

2665 10460921

2FM Charles R Riordan

2427 12611870

3FM William Kelleher

2373 10012571

4FM Christoher Chase

2363 10010985

5FM Teddy Coleman

2309 12662799 Harvard

6NM Avraam Pismennyy

2299 12858217

7FM Oliver Kniest

2293 12800989

8NM Lawyer Times

2291 12167330

9NM Ilya Krasik

2225 12580336

10NM Alex Miche Fikiet

2210 12921011

11LM Chris Williams

2207 12788759

12NM Gregory O Kaden

2203 12000550

13Simon Behm

2194 FIDE

14NM Evan Z Rabin

2188 12720571

15CM Stuart S Finney

2147 12853421

16Dr Bernhard Seehaus

2145 14480077

17Grant Y Xu

2089 13722590

18Dmitriy N Noy

2043 13253086

19Emmanuel Mevs

1940 12875341

20Stephen Brudno

1937 10017734

21WCM Nata Christiansen

1887 11366805

22Nicholas Plotkin

1691 13150685 SAGE


SwissSys Wall Chart. BU Open 2010: U1900

#Name/Rtng/IDRd 1Rd 2Rd 3Rd 4Tot
1Daniel S Shapiro

1826 12497052

2Benjam Burkholder

1826 12755666 BU

3Mark Kaprielian

1812 10007763

4Robert Messenger

1800 12418118

5Paul Felker

1773 12792069

6Jonathan Mark Lee

1773 12742928

7Michael Raphael

1746 12852236 Northeastern

8Robert J Holmgren

1746 11291635

9Mike Griffin

1738 10017793

10Harold B Dondis

1673 10018765

11Frank Frazier

1663 10014280

12Eric P Lawless

1642 12894720 Northeastern

13Ryan Ke Ottaviano

1628 12778775

14Robert J Oresick

1604 12659519

15Jenshiang Hong

1497 12849540

16Jason Tang

1370 14217571

17Anthony T Moosey


1327 12916233

18Changming Xu

1304 13537760


SwissSys Wall Chart. BU Open 2010: U1600

#Name/Rtng/IDRd 1Rd 2Rd 3Rd 4Tot
1George Thoma Gram

1590 14253951 Northeastern

2Kangping Hu

1583 14288523 BU

3Timothy Sniffin

1491 14077800 Northeastern

4Greg Siciliano

1482 12777537 Northeastern

5Kevin J Hu

1451 14148891

6Alexander Kurjatko

1440 12889083

7Rohan Shankar

1439 13861103 Sudbury primary

8Barry Lai

1414 12919031

9Harvey G Reed

1352 12524765

10Aashish Welling

1321 14343251

11Sandeep Shankar

1315 13874968 Sudbury primary

12Jonathan S Wexler

1240 14423448 Northeastern

13Daniel Plotkin

1051 13790082 SAGE

14Claudio De Mutiis

958 14288868 BU

15Eric Jiarui Hu

896 14353593

16Richard Soohoo


647 13288668

17Matthew Ch Messer

633 12932717 BU

18Husayn R Karimi

563 12877597 BB&N

19Lino Fabriano

unr. BU

20Matthew Piatetsky

unr. BU

21Robert Kim

unr. 14514710 Northeastern

22Nikhil Gandham

unr. 14514788 Northeastern

23Lambis Pahiyiannakis

unr. 14513544 BU

24Garrett Kingman

unr. 14498442

25Bowen Huo

unr. 14514746 Northeastern