Monday, February 28, 2011

Congrats to Spiegel Cup Winners

Congratulations to the winners of the 2011 Spiegel Cup, most of whom are familiar players at the BCC.


Here are the results of this year’s Spiegel Cup as reported by George Mirijanian, MACA president:

High School: 1st, Andrew Wang, 4-0; 2d, James Lung, 2.5-1.5; 3d, Winston Huang, 2.5-1.5; 4th, Jessie Nicholas, 2.5-1.5.

14 & Under: 1st, Grant Xu, 3.5-.5; 2d, Michelle Chen, 3-1; 3d, Mika Brattain, 2.5-1.5; 4th, Andrew Liu, 2.5 –1.5.

11 & Under: 1st, Alex Fauman, 4-0; 2d, Anton Barash, 3-1; 3d, Evan Meyer, 3-1; 4th, Jeffrey Yao, 2-2.

8 & Under: 1st, Jason Tang, 3.5-.5; 2d, Carissa Yip 3-1; 3d, Samuel Qiu, 3-1; 4th, Matthew Ding, 2.5-1.5.

Some photos from the Amateur Team East


Two BU chess club teams traveled to the USATE. This is a favorite tournament for the pleasures of team competition and friendship. The diversity of the chess world is very apparent.

Many many BCC and Boston area players participate each year.

These photos give an impression (albeit BU-centric and New England flavored) of this great event.

Vigorito v Hungaski game in Parsippany featured in the NY Times

Team Championship Rewards the Whimsical and the Skilled

"...Also interesting was the Round 3 showdown between Robert Hungaski and David Vigorito, two international masters who helped lead their United States Chess League team, the New England Nor’easters, to the championship. In Parsippany, Vigorito won a sensational tactical slugfest. ..."

Thursday, February 24, 2011

12th annual Paramount

For some people spring is signaled by the start of Red Sox reporting to spring training, by groundhog day, by the returning swallows to Capistrano...

But for many of us it is the Paramount.

This will be the 12th annual edition of the popular tournament, a ten-round, double round-robin. Initiated by Bryan Clark, this format [generous time control with two try's against known opponents bunched in competitive groups] remains popular. And it is one of the few tournaments left that incorporate adjournments.

Monday, Feb 28 – May 2: 12th Annual Paramount

* 10 Rounds
* 2RR
* Players divided into six player sections by rating
* 40/120, G/50
* Adjourments are allowed after 4 hours of play
* Entry fee: $25, $20 to BCF members
* Prizes: 50% EF
* Registration: 6:00 to 6:45 PM Round at 7PM

TD Robert Oresick
assistant TD Bernardo Iglesias

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

This Saturday, Feb. 26th-- Event #2 of the Grand Prix

Here is a reminder that the second event in our ultra-cheap $7.00 for members and $10.00 for non-member Grand Prix series is this Saturday, Feb. 26th.

Four rated chess games. Seven bucks.
Remember, the winners in each rating class won't be determined until the end of the year when all 12 events are over. Better show up and keep racking up points if you want to keep up with the regulars!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Fear Factor

Luke Skywalker: I'm not afraid.
Yoda: You will be.

Austin Chess Powers, an International Chessman of Mystery, once talked with me about over-the-board fear. He lamented having lost a game in which, facing unnerving threats, he had made a preventive move "just to be safe", and succumbed, at least in part, due to that error. His vanquisher, Dr. Chessically Evil (one of our club's masters), advised him afterward that there had been no need to make that preventive move. Since that game, Austin believed he had cured himself of that problem (and his rating change tends to confirm that).

I like to think that I am largely immune to suffering from irrational fear of an opponent's higher rating or of certain types of positions (well, except perhaps for that time when the Ghost of Met Leagues Past paid me a game-destroying visit...shudder). The plain fact of the matter is that fear is a part (the Dark Side?) of chess.

In my second rated game way back in 1985, I played 1306-rated Edmund Wheeler, a pleasant older fellow, in the bottom section. I was down a pawn with a bad position. At one point, we both thought he had a chance to take yet another one of my queenside pawns, but he opted not to do so.

After the game, which I ended up winning via a combination, I asked him why he didn't take the additional pawn. He told me someone had previously taught him a lesson about chasing pawns. I was surprised by his having apparently ruled out the pawn-grab based on a previous bad experience, although perhaps he calmly and coolly took that stance based on an understanding of his own chess abilities.

In 1986 I played in the U.S. Open in New Jersey sporting a 1732 rating. As White against 2116-rated William Coburn, I reached the following position after 19...Bg4:

After 20 Qa4 h5, I concluded I could reasonably take the a-pawn. When I grabbed it with 21 Qxa7, my opponent's abrupt body motion suggested unexpected surprise that I'd done so. I have long thought that he didn't think someone rated so much lower than he would take such a pawn.

Subsequently I lost the exchange and eventually the game -- my longest on the clock, at 7 hours and 45 minutes. Was the pawn worth it? Absolutely. The moves after my pawn grab were certainly not best play on both sides, but the experience was good for me (probably less so for him, since he had to go to work the next day after our 2:45 am finish...).

In the 1988 U.S. Open held in downtown Boston, I reached the following position as White against Ken Cooper after 11...Rxf6:

According to my recollection, he was rated significantly lower than I, perhaps in the 1300's. I felt strangely dissatisfied with my position, and could not see a clear way to an advantage. Keeping in mind my significant rating point advantage, I opted to confidently play 12 Bxh7+, even though I suspected it would turn out badly for me. Is there a French Defense player who has not had a horrible sinking feeling upon seeing his or her opponent play Bxh7+?

I can't fight my way tactically out of a wet paper bag, so I asked our newly-minted Master Ben Goldberg for comment on the above position. He graciously replied:
[I]t would at first glance appear that black can defend by ... Kxh7, Ng5+ Kg8, Qh5 Rh6, Qf7+, but white can throw more wood onto the fire by continuing with Ng6+ Rxg6, Qxg6 Bxg5, Bxg5. All of black's moves have been forced. After the queen moves, black must tread very carefully. One of the reasons why white was able to sac on h7 and continue the attack is because black played the opening in a lackluster way, neglecting natural development. The wrong knight is on c6, and Be7 was a loss of tempo. After Be7 was played, the thematic f6 break is less effective because black must capture with the rook (in order to defend against the h7 sacrifice) whereas normally black has the option of taking with the queen or the knight on d7. (I am assuming this was once a Tarrasch [Indeed it was. -Ken Ho]). This type of scenario can happen often when French players don't have a consistent plan and vacillate over how to develop their pieces within their little camp.

In the aforementioned resulting position (after white plays Bxg5), white is ready to take on c5, followed by ideas of bringing the rooks into the attack via lifting them to the third rank. After the dust has settled after white plays Bxg5, we can see that black has still not solved his development problems (note the observers on a8, b8, and c8, and he remains weak on the dark squares, and is vulnerable to checks on h5 and e8.

Where should we put the queen? Well Qd6 seems ok, but nope. We get slammed on e6 and lose the spectator on c8. Qf8 seems reasonable enough at first, but after dxc5 it then begs the question of how black can continue his development as we would love to play Nd7, but can't because e6 hangs. If black tries to seize the center with e5, white can continue logically with Rad1 and it looks extremely unlikely that black will be able to hold it all together. A sample line: ... d4, Qh5+ Kg8, cxd4 exd4, Rfe1 Bd7, b4! Nxb4, Rxd4 N4c6, Rh4. Black is getting killed.

So returning to black's defense with Qf8, dxc5 Ne5 seems a more sensible option. White here can continue the attack with Rae1 Nbc6, Re3. Although I certainly don't see any mates in sight, I think most people would rather play white here. Though white has the rook and two pawns vs. 2 pieces, black's lack of development and lack of king cover provide white with better chances.

The other defense after white plays Bxg5 is Qg8. It should be encouraging to the white player already that there is already the option of a perpetual check, but let's see if we can get more. After dxc5 Nd7, b4 Ne5, Qh5+ Qh7, Qxh7+ Kxh7, f4 Nc4. Black has succeed in staving off the attack, is maybe only slightly worse due to still being stuck with a problem bishop and slightly unpleasant pawn structure.

Though the h7 sacrifice has not ended the game with a dashing attack with best defense, it has in some lines to a somewhat unpleasant game for black where white has all the options, not what black was aiming for from the opening. Black certainly has ample chances to defend, but it isn't all that fun for him.

[time passed]

I didn't even discuss the BETTER way of proceeding in the initial position than Bxh7. Though I've shown that it is certainly playable option, it is actually not necessary. With white's pieces massed on the kingside, and black having played f6 in a state of disarray, it is actually unnecessary to sac on h7. What about simply Nh5? It seems like white's attack is already becoming close to irresistible. After Rf8, Qc2 g6, Bxg6 is an obvious kill, and if black tries h6, Bh7+ Kh7, Nxg7! Kxg7, Qg6+ Kh8, Qxh6 is brutal.

Fear Factor rendered all the above considerations moot: my opponent replied 12...Kf8?, and let's just say that even I can win a game against such an opponent from there.

In 2003 I was playing White against 2483-rated Bill Paschall at our own Boylston Chess Club. The position after 12...h5:

I played 13 Re1 and eventually lost (yeah, I know the readers are all surprised). In the post-mortem, he asked me why I didn't play 13 h4. I replied that I didn't think I needed to. I think he approved of my decision-making (hopefully he wasn't thinking, "Well, that's why your position disintegrated....").

Remember, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself, plus that horde of enemy pieces swarming around our king.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Something Fishy at the 2011 US Chess Championships

The recently announced 2011 US Championship event has some fishy names on it, courtesy of what I deem to be a shoddy qualification process.

Here is the list (note, Hikaru Nakamura declined a spot to concentration on the World stage. Fair enough).

* GM Gata Kamsky
* GM Alex Onischuk
* GM Varuzhan Akobian
* GM Yasser Seirawan
* GM Yury Shulman
* GM Jaan Ehlvest
* GM Alex Stripunsky
* GM Larry Christiansen
* GM Robert Hess
* GM Alex Shabalov
* GM Alexander Ivanov
* GM-elect Sam Shankland
* GM Ben Finegold
* IM Daniel Naroditsky
* TBD: Winner of Saint Louis Invitational
* TBD: Runner-up of Saint Louis Invitational

The ones I want to highlight are in bold. First up is GM Ben Finegold. According the most recent USCF top list, Ben is ranked 33rd in the US, yet he is given a wild card spot. One can only speculate that this is because he works for the Saint Louis Chess Club, which is hosting the Championship. I can think of many other players that deserved a slot. Instead, most of those players are now forced to duke it out in the qualifying tournament. Ben Finegold is a strong player, no doubt. He deserves a spot-- in the qualifying tournament with the other strong(er) players.

The other player is Yasser Seirawan, once the strongest player in the US and a former Top 10 in the world. I highlight him because, according the USCF rules for the US Championship, Yasser does not seem to qualify.

The rules state (easily downloaded from the USCF website) that a minimum of 10 games must be played in the 12 months prior to the time when rating qualifications are determined. According to the USCF website, Yasser played in 9 Dutch League games last year. Leaving aside the obvious oddity that these events were rated by the USCF (in fact, he is the only player to be rated in the Dutch League matches), 9 is smaller than the 10 minimum requirement.

Here is the exact excerpt that I could find from the USCF:

Players must play a minimum number of USCF-rated games (defined as including games played in the FIDE World Championship cycle, or other recognized world championship competition).
Games played to satisfy the activity requirement must be played under the rating system used to select players for a particular event (see above). Thus, games played under the USCF’s Quick
Chess rating system do not count toward the activity requirement. There is no minimum number of events.
1. For events other than the Olympiad and Women's Olympiad, play at least 10 USCF-rated
games (including games played in the FIDE World Championship cycle, or other recognized
world championship competition) during the twelve month period prior to computation of
invitational ratings.
2. For the U.S. Championship, players may satisfy the activity requirement by their participation in the immediately preceding event.

Here are the 10 players competing for the final two spots.

* GM Alejandro Ramirez
* GM Gregory Kaidanov
* GM Joel Benjamin
* GM Julio Becerra
* GM Eugene Perelshteyn
* GM Ray Robson
* GM Melikset Khachiyan
* GM Jesse Kraai
* IM Michael Brooks
* FM Darwin Yang

I've got problems with this list, too, but let's leave it for now. Many of these are deserving of the "Wild Card" slots that went to other, lower rated, players. And yet other strong GMs are oddly missing from this group in place of someone (from MO, of course!) ranked #100 in the US.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Registering to Vote Requirement for the 2011 USCF Executive Board Elections

You are receiving this email as you are an affiliate of the US Chess Federation and I am requesting from you a call to action to assist in a very important matter facing the USCF membership community.

This year in order for members to vote, members MUST register, or their voice will be lost in the election. This new rule was approved at the 2010 Delegates meeting. No Vote, No Voice!

I am requesting that you forward this email to your chess email lists, post the content on your websites, make Twitter and Facebook posts - anything to get the word out.

Normally there are over 35,000 voting members that would receive ballots. So far only 1216 people have registered to vote! Voters must be 16 years of age or older to register. Remember family memberships are entitled to vote for anyone that is 16 or older in that family membership!

To register to vote, members will need their USCF ID, Date of Birth, and their PIN number. Their PIN number can be found on their Chess Life mailing label or on their TLA Newsletter. Once this information is handy visit this website -<> and they will be able to register to vote.


For those of you that do not know me, I am Sevan A. Muradian. I am a candidate in the 2011 USCF Executive Board Elections.

You can follow my campaign at<> .

The website is operational and there is a feature to sign-up to automatically be notified of new content.

I urge you to visit the website and communicate it out to your chess network

Friday, February 11, 2011

Top 100 Players at the Bolyston Chess Club

The USCF website now allows us to sort players based on affiliate. Here is the list of the 100 Top players who have played at least 2 events in the past two years at the Boylston Chess Club:

Rank USCF ID Exp. Date Name Rating Date Published Events
1 10460921 2099-12-31 GM LARRY M CHRISTIANSEN 2665 2011-01-01 5
2 12513936 2099-12-31 GM ALEXANDER IVANOV 2593 2011-02-01 7
3 13433622 2011-07-31 DENYS KONSTANTIN SHMELOV 2520 2011-02-01 11
4 12426279 2013-02-28 IM DAVID VIGORITO 2515 2011-01-01 24
5 20008479 2011-09-30 IM MARC R ESSERMAN 2495 2011-02-01 41
6 12611870 2011-03-31 FM CHARLES R RIORDAN 2437 2011-01-01 14
7 10010985 2013-08-31 FM CHRISTOPHER W CHASE 2386 2011-02-01 62
8 12800989 2011-09-30 FM OLIVER KNIEST 2337 2011-02-01 8
9 12809699 2011-02-28 WGM ANYA S CORKE 2327 2011-01-01 4
10 12662799 2011-12-31 FM TEDDY COLEMAN 2315 2011-02-01 4
11 11096239 2011-07-31 ALEX CHERNIACK 2311 2010-10-01 8
12 12858217 2011-08-31 AVRAAM PISMENNYY 2300 2011-02-01 10
13 12167330 2011-11-30 LAWYER TIMES 2251 2011-02-01 49
14 13560614 2011-10-31 KYAW LWIN 2243 2011-02-01 3
15 12718889 2099-12-31 ANDREW E TICHENOR 2235 2011-02-01 13
16 12580336 2011-05-31 ILYA KRASIK 2230 2011-02-01 7
17 12690122 2011-05-31 VADIM MARTIROSOV 2229 2011-02-01 4
18 12846588 2012-10-31 ANDREW C WANG 2217 2011-01-01 19
19 12720571 2016-06-30 EVAN Z RABIN 2208 2011-02-01 17
20 10030927 2012-05-31 ERIC J GODIN 2205 2011-02-01 14
21 12671059 2012-06-30 BENJAMIN D GOLDBERG 2200 2011-02-01 7
22 12594672 2012-01-31 CAREY MILES THEIL 2197 2011-02-01 52
23 12788759 2013-10-31 CHRIS WILLIAMS 2194 2011-02-01 31
24 12000550 2011-06-30 GREGORY O KADEN 2174 2011-02-01 6
25 12625572 2013-09-30 SIMON K WARFIELD 2172 2011-02-01 7
26 14480077 2011-09-30 DR BERNHARD SEEHAUS 2171 2011-02-01 16
27 12931859 2013-03-31 JULIAN M CHAN 2166 2011-02-01 4
28 12472704 2012-10-31 FRANK WANG 2165 2010-09-01 4
29 12727791 2011-05-31 DAVID ARIEL PLOTKIN 2154 2010-11-01 11
30 10031443 2099-12-31 MATTHEW DEREK MEREDITH 2154 2011-02-01 5
31 13023280 2011-11-30 KAPIL CHANDRAN 2147 2011-02-01 3
32 11235611 2011-04-30 PATRICK R SCIACCA 2144 2011-02-01 3
33 12868372 2010-07-31 FARZAD ABDI 2132 2010-06-01 14
34 12758853 2011-06-30 BENNET PELLOWS 2128 2010-09-01 5
35 13052087 2012-01-31 MIKA ANDREW BRATTAIN 2119 2011-01-01 22
36 12677440 2012-02-29 BENEDICT A SMAIL 2119 2011-02-01 14
37 12938203 2011-09-30 ZAROUG A JALEEL 2107 2011-02-01 25
38 14241298 2011-08-31 ZONGYUAN YUAN 2104 2010-10-01 30
39 11434801 2011-01-31 WILLIAM COLLINS 2100 2010-10-01 7
40 13722590 2011-08-31 GRANT Y XU 2093 2011-02-01 18
41 12910964 2012-02-29 JAMES LUNG 2063 2010-12-01 30
42 12846607 2013-12-31 ANDREW HOY 2059 2011-02-01 35
43 10014522 2012-04-30 ALEX SLIVE 2052 2011-02-01 11
44 13253086 2011-10-31 DR DMITRIY N NOY 2046 2011-01-01 6
45 12909778 2010-12-31 JAKE GARBARINO 2041 2010-10-01 4
46 12842960 2010-05-31 PHILIP A NUTZMAN 2039 2010-05-01 9
47 12621559 2011-05-31 LEONID TKACH 2021 2011-02-01 4
48 11273335 2011-12-31 CHARLES MAYS 2009 2010-04-01 3
49 12749581 2013-03-31 KYLE LEIGH CLAYTON 2004 2011-02-01 3
50 10120225 2011-05-31 TED CROSS 2004 2011-02-01 12
51 12876857 2011-05-31 TIAN ROSSI 2003 2011-01-01 11
52 12430870 2011-06-30 EDWARD ASTRACHAN 2002 2011-02-01 7
53 10011191 2099-12-31 ARTHUR P NUGENT 2000 2011-02-01 9
54 12911474 2011-11-30 JACOB N FAUMAN 1998 2011-02-01 16
55 11195890 2012-08-31 DAVID S GLICKMAN 1992 2010-12-01 9
56 14240012 2010-08-31 DIMITRIOS PAPPELIS 1988 2009-10-01 3
57 13197575 2011-12-31 VIKAS SHIVA 1987 2011-02-01 18
58 12742439 2010-10-31 RYAN D MCGRADY 1982 2009-12-01 9
59 12533838 2011-07-31 GEORGE ZOGBI 1982 2010-09-01 4
60 10013721 2011-06-30 TOMAS GIRNIUS 1980 2010-10-01 3
61 12918779 2013-02-28 MICHELLE XUEYING CHEN 1974 2011-02-01 23
62 13987660 2011-08-31 ANDREW LIU 1971 2011-02-01 33
63 12923579 2011-02-28 EMBERT LIN 1965 2011-02-01 16
64 12872878 2012-07-31 JESSE NICHOLAS 1963 2011-02-01 42
65 13492147 2011-03-31 LUIS A BAEZ-ROSARIO 1961 2010-05-01 3
66 12875341 2011-08-31 EMMANUEL MEVS 1946 2011-02-01 13
67 12676022 2013-06-30 GABRIEL FRIEDEN 1940 2010-09-01 5
68 12871990 2011-03-31 ADAM YEDIDIA 1937 2010-05-01 6
69 13426034 2012-04-30 RUBEN PORTUGUES 1934 2010-01-01 4
70 13034164 2011-12-31 DARWIN DING 1928 2011-02-01 25
71 12931853 2011-11-30 CHARLIE D FAUMAN 1924 2011-02-01 16
72 11480977 2011-03-31 SCOTT W DIDHAM 1921 2010-12-01 3
73 12551205 2012-12-31 JASON RIHEL 1914 2011-01-01 15
74 12859758 2012-07-31 SEAN THOMAS INGHAM 1914 2011-01-01 31
75 12768127 2012-01-31 BENJAMIN H SMITH 1907 2010-12-01 7
76 13164465 2012-01-31 MAX CHIA-HSIN LU 1904 2011-02-01 50
77 12436451 2011-09-30 WIM VESNA DIMITRIJEVIC 1901 2011-01-01 3
78 10002061 2099-12-31 DANIEL J BARTLEY 1900 2010-09-01 4
79 13157281 2012-04-30 MATTHEW EVAN FISHBEIN 1897 2011-02-01 5
80 20114896 2012-01-31 JOSHUA HAUNSTRUP 1895 2010-07-01 9
81 12804554 2013-06-30 WINBER XU 1894 2010-11-01 3
82 12432059 2014-01-31 PAUL A MISHKIN 1891 2011-01-01 26
83 12910390 2012-02-29 FANGRU JIANG 1890 2011-01-01 3
84 12399747 2011-12-31 ROSS ELDRIDGE 1884 2011-02-01 30
85 13492310 2011-10-31 DANIEL PASCETTA 1875 2011-02-01 3
86 12848589 2011-10-31 JAMES MCCONVILLE 1870 2010-09-01 4
87 12939338 2012-06-30 KEVIN MA 1858 2011-02-01 3
88 11366805 2099-12-31 WCM NATASHA C CHRISTIANSEN 1857 2011-02-01 75
89 12436540 2012-01-31 ALEXANDER PAPHITIS 1852 2011-02-01 11
90 12367030 2013-05-31 MARK FINS 1849 2011-02-01 27
91 12460579 2099-12-31 HOWARD J GOLDOWSKY 1846 2011-02-01 12
92 12841674 2012-10-31 RICHARD A LUNETTA II 1846 2011-01-01 10
93 11493246 2099-12-31 MICHAEL PASCETTA 1833 2011-02-01 4
94 10091438 2012-01-31 TERRENCE L FRICKER 1830 2009-10-01 9
95 12755666 2012-03-31 BENJAMIN BURKHOLDER 1827 2011-01-01 5
96 12547513 2012-10-31 WALTER A DRISCOLL III 1817 2010-12-01 30
97 12603571 2099-12-31 DANIEL SCHMIDT 1815 2011-02-01 10
98 12742928 2011-06-30 JONATHAN MARK LEE 1811 2011-02-01 18
99 12497052 2011-12-31 DANIEL S SHAPIRO 1808 2011-02-01 25
100 12666512 2014-02-28 WILLIAM FRANCIS STEIN 1806 2011-01-01 3

That's right-- our club boasts over 100 players ranked at least in Class A, with ~25 masters and another 25 experts!

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Calling all lawyers-- for Chess

Are you an attorney who enjoys chess? Here’s your chance to meet some kindred spirits at a fun networking event!

The Boston Bar Association is hosting a Chess Night on March 15 at 5:30 p.m. at
Boston Bar Association
16 Beacon Street
Boston, MA

Beer, wine, and appetizers will be provided; please bring a set and clock if possible.

The event is co-sponsored by the Boylston Chess Foundation. This is also a great opportunity to recruit new players for the Boylston Chess Foundation – so let’s make a good showing!

Sign up at Boston Bar Association website:

(ed-- Just teasing with the picture, lawyers!)

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Edgar Allan Poe on early AI: von Kempelen's chess-playing Turk and Babbage's Difference Engine

Poe Writes Maelzel's Chess Player April 1836

American writer, poet, editor, literary critic, and magazinist Edgar Allan Poe publishes in the Southern Literary Messenger "Maelzel's Chess Player."

In this article on automata Poe provides a very closely reasoned explanation of the concealed human operation of von Kempelen's Turk, which Poe had seen exhibited in Richmond, Virginia by Maelzel a few weeks earlier.

Poe also briefly compares von Kempelen's Turk to Babbage's Difference Engine No. 1, which was limited to the computation of astronomical and navigation tables, suggesting essentially that if the Turk was fully automated and had the ability to use the results of one logical operation to make a decision about the next one—what was later called "conditional branching" —it would be far superior to Babbage's machine. This feature was, of course, later designed into Babbage's Analytical Engine.

Here is Poe's comparison of the two machines:

"But if these machines were ingenious, what shall we think of the calculating machine of Mr. Babbage? What shall we think of an engine of wood and metal which can not only compute astronomical and navigation tables to any given extent, but render the exactitude of its operations mathematically certain through its power of correcting its possible errors? What shall we think of a machine which can not only accomplish all this, but actually print off its elaborate results, when obtained, without the slightest intervention of the intellect of man?

It will, perhaps, be said, in reply, that a machine such as we have described is altogether above comparison with the Chess-Player of Maelzel. By no means — it is altogether beneath it — that is to say provided we assume (what should never for a moment be assumed) that the Chess-Player is a pure machine, and performs its operations without any immediate human agency. Arithmetical or algebraical calculations are, from their very nature, fixed and determinate. Certain data being given, certain results necessarily and inevitably follow. These results have dependence upon nothing, and are influenced by nothing but the data originally given. And the question to be solved proceeds, or should proceed, to its final determination, by a succession of unerring steps liable to no change, and subject to no modification.

This being the case, we can without difficulty conceive the possibility of so arranging a piece of mechanism, that upon starting it in accordance with the data of the question to be solved, it should continue its movements regularly, progressively, and undeviatingly towards the required solution, since these movements, however complex, are never imagined to be otherwise than finite and determinate.

But the case is widely different with the Chess-Player. With him there is no determinate progression. No one move in chess necessarily follows upon any one other. From no particular disposition of the men at one period of a game can we predicate their disposition at a different period. Let us place the first move in a game of chess, in juxta-position with the data of an algebraical question, and their great difference will be immediately perceived. From the latter — from the data — the second step of the question, dependent thereupon, inevitably follows. It is modelled by the data. It must be thus and not otherwise.

But from the first move in the game of chess no especial second move follows of necessity. In the algebraical question, as it proceeds towards solution, the certainty of its operations remains altogether unimpaired. The second step having been a consequence of the data, the [column 2:] third step is equally a consequence of the second, the fourth of the third, the fifth of the fourth, and so on, and not possibly otherwise, to the end.

But in proportion to the progress made in a game of chess, is the uncertainty of each ensuing move. A few moves having been made, no step is certain. Different spectators of the game would advise different moves. All is then dependent upon the variable judgment of the players.

Now even granting (what should not be granted) that the movements of the Automaton Chess-Player were in themselves determinate, they would be necessarily interrupted and disarranged by the indeterminate will of his antagonist. There is then no analogy whatever between the operations of the Chess-Player, and those of the calculating machine of Mr. Babbage, and if we choose to call the former a pure machine we must be prepared to admit that it is, beyond all comparison, the most wonderful of the inventions of mankind.

Its original projector, however, Baron Kempelen, had no scruple in declaring it to be a "very ordinary piece of mechanism — a bagatelle whose effects appeared so marvellous only from the boldness of the conception, and the fortunate choice of the methods adopted for promoting the illusion." But it is needless to dwell upon this point. It is quite certain that the operations of the Automaton are regulated by mind, and by nothing else. Indeed this matter is susceptible of a mathematical demonstration, a priori. The only question then is of the manner in which human agency is brought to bear.
Before entering upon this subject it would be as well to give a brief history and description of the Chess-Player for the benefit of such of our readers as may never have had an opportunity of witnessing Mr. Maelzel's exhibition."

Filed under: Artificial Intelligence, Crimes / Forgeries / Hoaxes , Data Processing / Computing, Robotics / Automata, Software | Bookmark or share this entry »


from the extremely fascinating website

Friday, February 04, 2011

Massachusetts 6th Grader wins 45th Annual Greater New York Scholastic Chess Championships!

Max Wiegand, a sixth grader from the Buckingham Browne & Nichols School in Cambridge, Mass., achieved one of the greatest tournament triumphs in his life by winning first place in the Elementary Varsity section of the 45th annual Greater New York Scholastic Championship, held January 29-30 at the The New Yorker Hotel in New York City.

The 12-year-old MACA member (ed. and Bolyston Chess Club regular) scored a perfect 5-0 in a field of 65 rivals, mainly from New York and New Jersey. He was the sole Massachusetts entry in the Elementary Varsity section. The championship, which is sponsored by the Kasparov Chess Foundation, is the USCF's longest-running scholastic tournament and one of the toughest events for scholastic players in New York. Max played up against higher rated players in three of his five wins and four of his wins were against competitors who finished in the top 8.

Max got to meet former world champion Garry Kasparov, who attended the tournament to sign autographs and make the ceremonial first move on board 1 in the third round. Kasparov specifically asked Max (who was playing on board 2 in that round) his name, which was pretty exciting for the Cambridge player. Also exciting for Max was his raising his USCF rating by nearly 150 points! In addition to the trophy and title, Max won six months of free entry (worth hundreds of dollars) to Chess Center of New York events at the legendary Marshall Chess Club in Manhattan.

The two-day championship drew a total of 672 players in 12 sections and was directed by renowned TD Steve Immitt of New York. His chief assistant was Sophia Rohde. Also assisting in the large event were TDs Joe Lux, Harold Stenzel, Walter Brown Jr., Polly Wright, Hector Rodriguez III, Steven Flores, Aaron Kiedes, Hal Sprechman and Jabari McGreen.

George Mirijanian
MACA President

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Super Bowl Octads

Ok, you've played in the Quads on Saturday and the Patriots are out and the Jets are out, so what are you going to do on Super Sunday.

How about a chess tournament (and friends to watch the super bowl with?)

Shown here is a hand painted Steelers vs. Cardinals Super Bowl chess set. It's a place that embodies the decorating-with-found-objects-spirit patrons enjoyed at the long-gone Chiodo's bar in Homestead. On occasion, Mr. DeLuca sells his handiwork. A Steelers chess set he spent three months painting is displayed on a coffee table at The Sports Deli, a sports memorabilia store in Parkway Center Mall.[ Ed.'s note: Did I mention I grew up near Pittsburgh and went to the University of Pittsburgh as an undergrad?]

Saturday, February 5: Quads 11-2
3RR; G/60 Entry fee $27, $17 BCF members. Prizes: G$50 First place each quad; Registration: 9:15 to 9:55; Rounds: 10:00, 12:40, 3:00

Sunday, February 6: BCF Super Bowl Octads
3SS G/45 EF: $27, $17 to BCF members. Prizes: b/8 per section $60-30. Reg: 9:55 – 10:25. Rounds: 10:30, 12:40, 2:30 T.D. Note: Tournament will finish by 4:15. Super Bowl will start at 6:25 PM

Natasha and Brian share first place in the Monday Night Swiss for January

Natasha Christiansen

and Brian Perez-Daple

won the BCC Monday Night Swiss. In the last round Natasha and Chris Chase played to a draw in a thicket of Bishops, Knights and scattered pawns with the clock ticking relentlessly.

It was a sketchy turnout with only 10 players, most of whom played sporadically -- except of course the undaunted Harold Dondis.