Saturday, August 18, 2012

Yuan Ling Yuan 
Returns to Harvard Square Chess Café

Yuan Ling Yuan loves to play chess. So she was right at home playing all comers at the Au Bon Pain Chess Plaza, Harvard Square, Cambridge. 
 Now a resident of Toronto, Canada, Yuan Ling, a freshman at Yale University, was accompanied to Massachusetts by her father, mother and maternal grandmother.  

Yuan Portrait   Red Bow  Photo: Steve Stepak

Her parents and grandmother, from Shanghai, China, lived for a time in California. 

Yuan's Canadian rating is 2382, which corresponds to 2397 USCF.  Her FIDE rating is 2220 and she has the FIDE title of Women's International Master.

Yuan Ling’s father told me that she had not played serious chess since that event. 

Yuan Ling made her first appearance at the Harvard Square Chess Scene in 2005, at the age of 11, sporting a 1983 USCF rating. 

She was here on a two week chess training session with her teacher IM Satea Husari, a well known chess personality at the Boylston Chess Club at that time.   

I am told Husari, from Syria, resides safely in Europe at this time. 

And Satea arranged for Yuan Ling to play many strong masters and experts, including GM Larry Christiansen. 

Yuan Ling says she has fond memories of that time in her childhood. 

Yuan 5 min hands hands  photo: Steve Stepak

Now Yuan Ling, 18 yrs old, embarks on her passage to adulthood, having been accepted to Yale University, New Haven, CT, where she will pursue study in the fields of business and law.    

She told me she will be playing chess with GM Robert Hess (FIDE 2624), also an undergraduate at Yale, in the Connecticut chess circuit. 

In her current 2012 visit to Harvard Square, she did herself, her teachers and her family proud by performing well in the 5 minute (blitz) format, no time delays or increments. 

Most of the players she faced were around 1700  strength. She beat them all. 

Big John, around 1950 strength was her first real challenge.  Though she won her multi-game match against Big John with a perfect score, witnesses (including me) saw that in the time scramble, Big John missed a mate in one! But for this omission, Yuan Ling punished him with a quick mate in three. 

 Big John v Yuan   photo: Steve Stepak
[Let the spectators of the photos note that Yuan Ling was playing on a USCF (totally) mechanical clock. So in each of her games, that little red flag which was hanging for most of Yuan Ling’s games, could have fallen at any time (hard to know exactly how much time you have with these babies, especially since most of us are used to the ubiquitous digital readout clocks now!) 

Yuan Ling was “cool under pressure” I mean she did not flinch or even show one ounce of emotional disruption—only solid determination and great endgame skill—in all her games.   

And in conversation after each game, Yuan Ling was congenial and friendly to all with whom she shared chess.

Yuan Ling’s most difficult opponent was Senior Master Rus Garber (USCF 2435 quick/2403 regular). Though Garber won the match 2-1, Yuan Ling played a spectacular first game and checkmated Garber.  The other two games found her losing on time-forfeit in positions which might be characterized as equal or better.  It is clear that Yuan Ling plays chess on the board and is more likely to lose the game only on the clock for her endgame technique is quite remarkable.

DSC_1171.jpg  Garber v Yuan time trouble  photo: Steve Stepak

Yuan Garber boys watch   photo: Steve Stepak

IM Esserman watches Yuan play Garber  photo: Steve Stepak
The Yuan family after a tour of Harvard and Boston will drive down to New Haven to drop off there talented daughter to Yale for freshman orientation.   

Yuan, who is quite convivial, says she will be back to Cambridge soon: the historic Harvard-Yale football game will take place this year at Harvard.   

And I’m sure, if the weather cooperates, Yuan Ling will make a visit back to the chess tables at Au Bon Pain for more chess fun and excitement.   

We, in the Boylston Chess Club and neighborhood chess communities, wish Yuan Ling the best of luck and success in her studies at Yale and in her pursuits of chess throughout her adult life.

Submitted by: 
Steve Stepak 
aka SteveChess, Cambridge MA USA

1 comment:

Ken said...

I had no idea that Rus(s?) Garber was around and playing chess still. I remember his presence in this area from the 1980's or so.