Sunday, April 30, 2006

Caption Contest VIII

John always found it necessary to increase the
blood flow to his brain before making his first move.

Post your caption in the comments.


And he seemed like such a nice guy

I just came across this news item entitled "Chess Champion Anand to Champion HIV/AIDS for Avahan." Now I've never heard of this chess player named Avahan, but I can't imagine why Vishy would want him to be afflicted with an incurable, deadly disease.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

The World To Come

"In life, unlike chess, the game continues after checkmate." - Isaac Asimov, Foundation and Empire

Hat tip: Media Dragon

Friday, April 28, 2006

Quick! Before it's gone

Yesterday, Susan Polgar created a post which was intended to be an open thread for readers to ask her any questions they had on their minds. In an amusing slip, the post was titled "Open Threat" instead of "Open Thread." The title has since been fixed, but "open threat" remains in the body of the post (for now!).

Update (1:35pm): It's all been fixed now.

Do you suppose there was some psychological basis for this slip?

If only...

Joey Comeau wrote a letter to Bill Gates with ideas for how he would use Bill's billions to make the world a better place. Here's one of his ideas: a chess computer that loses every game and hates you for it. A computer that is the worst kind of poor loser.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Chess on the Beach

Link1 - Link2

Competing Claims

Minneapolis Southwest High School students win U.S. Chess Federation National Championship.

Brooklyn's Edward R. Murrow High School chess team scored a checkmate last night as it captured another national title.

Maybe Chessdad64 can sort this out for us.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

So schools do ban chess after all

For a school that banned playing chess, Fair Haven Union High School has a pretty good chess team.

Senior Dillon Russell-Kenniston and junior Oliver Chase went 5-0 in the Vermont State Scholastic Chess Championship held April 8 in Richmond, sharing honors as the state's high school chess co-champions....

"We used to come and play all the time during study hall," said Russell-Kenniston, 18. "Then the high school banned chess. It originated with card games. The administration said they didn't want us playing cards in school. Then some teacher said if they ban card games, they should ban all games."

Wouldn't banning all games include football, baseball, volleyball, soccer, etc.?

Book Publishing and Chess

Laying out a book is like chess. I have to have an overall view of what's going on and what the eventual result should be, but I have to juggle lots of possible alterations, each of which affects other things.


Raw Story's Managing Editor Larisa Alexandrovna on one of the many reasons why Iran is the big prize:

There are also geopolitical reasons - there are advantages to having a presence there in a very significant region - controlling that region would be like controlling the center of a chess board.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Readers wanted

Chessola's David Moody discusses playing the opponent vs. playing the board, playing down to the level of your opposition, and the fact that no one reads his blog. It's a good post that deserves more readers -- check it out.

You can call him GM Perelshteyn

Congratulations to Boston's own Eugene Perelshteyn for securing his 3rd and final GM norm at the 2006 Foxwoods Open.

Welcome to the club, Eugene!
I'll teach you the secret handshake later.

Coming to theatres soon

Akeelah and the Bee has barely been released and already there is talk of a sequel. How about Ninoshka and the Knight?
If someone wanted to produce a movie about high school chess champions -- and if a documentary about spelling bees can be box-office gold, the idea's not so unrealistic -- Ninoshka Fernandes' story might fit the bill to perfection.
Read "Morton Grove girl becomes queen of the chess board" from the Morton Grove (IL) Champion.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Chess Kills!

It is amazing what some journalists will do for a lead:

Most sports have inherent risks, some more than others. Take sky diving, car racing, extreme skiing - even hockey and football, for instance. The thinking man's sport, however, is often passed up in the high-adrenaline mix. But the fact remains - chess kills.

Although chess fatalities have been down this year, there were a couple of players who died in 2005, including one in Canada, says Peter Kerek, organizer of Kamloops' second annual Worker's Memorial Chess Tournament.

"It's usually older guys. Maybe they weren't healthy already - I don't know the specifics," he notes.

From "Chess and death - don't let this checkmate be your last" at Kamloops This Week.

No more privacy

It used to be when you were upset by a lower rated player you could largely take your lumps in private. Sure, a couple of other players at the club might rib you for a week or so and in extreme (though rare) circumstances you might find the game published in a club newsletter or local chess magazine. Not anymore!

At the National High School Championship in Milwaukee, BCC member and National Master Chris Williams was defeated by Illinois grade-schooler Eric Rosen. Not only was the game broadcast live at MonRoi, but Williams had the misfortune of facing the son of blogger Chessdad64. Quite reasonably, a proud parent thought his son's achievement worthy of a post.

Now that the game has entered the blogosphere, there's no looking back -- this cat is out of the bag.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

What marketing genius thought of this?

It's not there anymore, but for about a week, one of the Google ads on the site was promoting "Tournament Chess Ringtones." An interesting target market to focus on given the FIDE rule which imposes an immediate forfeit on any player whose cell phone rings during the game. Maybe the ringtone was an excerpt from John Cage's 4'33"?

24 posts about chess? sums up Season 5: 12-1am ...

With only 6 more episodes left, the chess board is set for everyone to make their final moves.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Chess Boxing?

...heavyweight contender Dominick Guinn [offers] an insight into Saturday's Wladimir Klitschko/Chris Byrd heavyweight showdown from Germany.

"It will be a chess match...."

Friday, April 21, 2006

How much would you pay to join?

We've previously covered the topic of tournament entry fees, but a couple of recent posts got me thinking about chess club membership costs.

The first by Robert Pearson talks about his preference for playing OTB "far more than any other form of chess." In this context, he discusses the value of the physical place to play, i.e., the chess club:

The atmosphere of a chess club is comfortable, like a good pair of jeans, to me; silence during the games but for the ticking clocks, animated post-mortems, the occasional 'difference of opinion.'

I've always felt the chess club was a special place for players, at its best far more than just a place to play. It embodies social, community and historical elements which enrich the overall experience. I'm thinking about full-time places like the Marshall Club in New York and the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco. While not as impressive a space as these, I contend that our own Boylston Chess Club captures much of this same spirit and I'm sure there are others. While there is nothing wrong with playing a weekly tournament game at a local coffee shop or community center, I think it is difficult for occasional, "temporary" spaces like these to engender the same experience.

If you believe as I do (and you may very well not), then you must eventually ask yourself what it is worth to join and support such a club. In the second post, Dennis Monokroussos gives his answer:

On the one hand, I'm familiar with the plight of the nomadic club - our local club has gone from one bookstore to another, was briefly located in a pub and now meets in the deli section (after it closes) of a local supermarket.... On the other hand, I have to admit that unless Kasparov was giving members-only lectures, I would not pay $200 for a year's membership. Further, I know that plenty of others would find such a fee prohibitive.

Let's put aside for the moment those players who simply don't have the economic means to pay for a club membership (most clubs offer non-member rates for individual events and I can't imagine the BCC turning away a player for purely economic reasons, although I suppose we'd probably deduct their entry fee from any prize they won). Among the rest, we've found scores of people willing to invest $125/year to be members of the club even though it might be more economically feasible for them to pay an extra $5 for the 10-12 tournaments a year they participate in. Obviously they see some inherent value in the club beyond this pure economic calculus. And, quite honestly, without them the rent could not be paid and the club would not exist. In New York, the Marshall charges up to $325 /year and many are willing to pay.

Do you think there is value in full-time, permanent chess clubs? If so, how much are you willing to pay to ensure their survival?

Why bother studying endgames?

Vichy Democrats' take on the recent shakeup and departures at the White House:

What do all these White House staff shakeups have in common? They're all window dressing. Yes, it's good to knock down as many neocon operatives as we can. It's also good to take pawns in chess, but it seldom wins the game.

The poster may or may not know much about politics, but he obviously has a lot to learn about chess.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

By any other name

Thanks to J'adoube for pointing out this anagram creation tool. My first few attempts were unsuccessful -- BCC Weblog has no anagrams, Boylston Chess Club Weblog and Boylston Chess Club are too long for the tool. However, I did ultimately find the following:

  • Boylston Chess - the rather techie "BENCH TOOLS SYS"

  • Boylston - "SLOB TONY" (any resemblance to a real person is totally unintentional !?)

  • Somerville - "REMOVE ILLS"

  • ... and my favorite, Chess Club - "BELCH CUSS"

Never Mind

Here are a few headlines from stories at Google News:

From The Philippines - Torre backs youth chess.
It's nice to see the New York Yankees manager taking some time out to support the kids.

From Vietnam - Dung ... win[s] at chess.
Who gives a sh**?

From Africa - Zambia: Country closed Chess championship.
Maybe we should refer them to the UN for possible sanctions unless they agree to reopen it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Three from the BCC Weblog Inbox

  1. Don Q, of Man de la Maza fame, reports that he has completed his second quest. Now that he has established himself as the preeminent organizer of community blog-based questing, it will be interesting to see what adventure he takes up next.

  2. Chessdad64 is happy to announce that he finally figured out how to add links to his blog, The 64 Square Jungle. Since it only took him a bit over a year, folks like Quandoman shouldn't give up hope.

  3. Chessdad64 also pointed me in the direction of the North American Chess Association -- apparently the next iteration of FIDE Chess in Chicago. What this means for the FIDE Chess in Chicago blog (which hasn't been updated since March 14th) remains to be seen.

    Update (3:15pm): Asked and partially answered ... a new post on FIDE Chess in Chicago points you to the new North American Chess Association blog.

It's about food, not chess

From "Shhhhh... children playing chess" at The Beacon Journal:
In between rounds, players gathered in the cafeteria at their teams' tables and the players who kept good notes of each move would re-create the game they had just played while coaches analyzed their decisions, corrected mistakes and suggested alternatives.

Such thinking requires brain food: 40 boxes of pizza for starters.

Parent volunteers such as Mary Gombert of Uniontown were serving hot dogs at 9 a.m. The big pot of chili was drained by 1 p.m.

"Now they want the candy," Gombert said.

Wonka Nerds -- grape and strawberry flavored -- were the preferred snack for novice player Laura Benzing, a 7-year-old North Canton student at Portage Montessori.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Beauty and the Geek - Boston casting details

We will be in Boston ... 4/19 - 4/25 casting for the third season, of the Ashton Kutcher hit show "Beauty and the Geek". If possible, we would love to come by and meet any men in your club who may be interested in participating in the show.

Beauty and the Geek IS CASTING FOR A THIRD SEASON...

We are currently seeking...

We are once again looking for very smart guys 21-30 years old with a high IQ and a savvy intellect. If you are more likely to be featured on Jeopardy rather than The Bachelor then we NEED you. This opportunity could make you RICHER IN LIFE (AND EVEN LOVE).

Do you know a good guy (who may just be socially inept when it comes to the ladies) But, who deserves a GREAT break in life? Finally, a reality show where being smart PAYS OFF with a MAJOR cash prize!

Are you sick and tired of those reality shows featuring the attractive man with not much substance? We're turning the tables and showing America that smart guys have more to offer. If you can teach a beauty a thing or two then this could be your perfect opportunity!


Send us an email asap to:

Be sure to include your name, age, a brief bio, your phone number and a picture if you have it. Last year's winning team won $250,000!!!!!!

For more information, call 310-793-6170, ask for Tarita or DJ

Snafu, Inc., 3 Ball Productions, Inc., Katalyst Films, Inc., Flashlight 21 (collectively, "Producer'), and The WB Network ("Network") make no guarantee that applicants will be selected for participation in the audition process and/or the program presently-entitled "Beauty and the Geek" (the "Program"). Producer is under no obligation to conduct auditions and/or to produce the Program. By submitting your application, you acknowledge and agree that: (i) Producer has no obligation to produce the Program, and, if produced, neither Producer nor Network has any obligation to broadcast the Program, even if produced; (ii) all decisions by Producer and/or the Network concerning selection of the contestants for the Program are final and not subject to challenge or appeal for any reason; and (iii) Producer has no obligation to return any materials submitted by any applicant as part of the application process, whether or not such applicant is auditioned and/or selected as a contestant. Any material provided to Producer (including, without limitation, videotapes, photographs, etc.) and all material that Producer creates as part of the application and contestant selection process shall remain the sole property of and shall be freely assignable by Producer. If you submit an application and/or any materials for consideration as a contestant on the Program, whether or not you are selected for any further consideration as a contestant on the Program, Producer shall have the right to use your name, voice, likeness, appearance, biographical information, any information or material provided by you to Producer, and any motion or still pictures or recordings Producer may make of you, in any and all media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide in perpetuity, and you hereby release Producer from any and claims, actions, damages, liabilities, losses, costs and/or expenses arising out of or resulting from Producer's exercise of its rights hereunder. Your rights and remedies against Producer shall be limited to the right, if any, to recover money damages in an action at law, and you shall not be entitled to terminate or rescind any agreement between you and Producer or any of the rights you grant to Producer, or to enjoin or restrain the development, production, distribution, advertising or other exploitation of the Program or any rights therein.

Lined up like pawns

From pipSqueek - my wheel of life:
Every Friday from 8pm, there is line dancing session at my office building’s atrium. I was amazed at the huge crowd tonight and stood by the side watching them for awhile.

I dont get it. How is that dancing? They are just walking through memorised steps. I guess the word “line” included is because they dance in rows....

I can understand the purpose of participating. It is some form of exercise and yeah, it is fun. But to call it dancing? It’s just like calling chess a sport.
Don't you find it interesting that there is a place on this planet where people like to go line dancing in office buildings after work?

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Play in the Boylston - MetroWest match

From Bob Oresick's e-mail to the BCC e-mail list:
Jonathan Lee has been organizing a friendly match between the Boylston and MetroWest clubs. We will play one game on Sunday, May 7 at the BCF in Davis Square. If you are interested in playing a board, please sign up at the club or email me [oresick (at) gmail (dot) com]. It should be fun. The more, the merrier. You don't need to be a current BCC member (though it would be nice.)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

The best thing to happen to chess since...

The casting people for Beauty and the Geek have contacted the club again -- this time looking for Geeks for Season 3.

I am DJ Feldman, Casting Director for season 3 of the Beauty and the Geek. In the next few weeks, we will be coming to Boston to conduct auditions. I wanted to know if you had any suggestions/recommendations from your chess club or any other places of interest to hit.

Thank you in advance for your help, it is much appreciated.

DJ Feldman
Casting Director
Beauty and the Geek (season 3)
No doubt Howard Goldowsky will be trying out for his favorite show (though I suspect they aren't really looking for old guys like us). How about you?

Equal Rights Amendment

"After the game of chess is over both the King and the Pawn have to return to the same box" -- from the movie Being Cyrus.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


From the "The Left-Hander’s 2005 Calendar" by Cary Koegle:

Left-handers are often natural chess players.

Any lefty chess players out there?

Hat Tip: Bridget Jones's (Other) Diary

Game Interrupted

From "Easter Holidays" at The Waffle:

So anyway, I was playing chess with Sam, and then she says she has to leave! Twice! Just as I was about to win, she leaves. Then I was playing chess with Craig, then I had to go home. So I haven't played a full game of chess yet, and no one else wants to play, or they can't. And that totally sucks. Well, I'm gonna go now and see if Shannen wants to play chess. Wow, I just read all that and I sound so sad.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


I don't think this blog will have much interest to the chess blog reading community, nor do I think it will find a place in the listings. Nevertheless, I do like its title -- Rantings of a Chess-Playing Flutist.

Chess Joke

There aren't a lot of chess jokes, and even fewer good ones (this is not one of them).

Question: Why can't Michael Jackson play chess?

Answer: Because he can't decide whether to be Black or White!

For those of you prone to screaming fits of political correctness, I remind you -- I'm only the messenger.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The case against chess in schools?

From Vengeance:

Our esteemed leader ... has fallen into the trap of preaching the ever-popular I'm sure, cockeyed notion that video games are a preparation for success in the real world of getting and spending, and climbing corporate ladders....

The ultimate 'Game' is chess. In fact it's virtually the only game that garners near universal respect. Yet, it's been proven over and over that even becoming World Champion chess player has near absolutely zero power to assist the chess player to succeed in the real world.

All one needs to do is hang around a chess club for a few hours to know that this is true.

More chess on 24

12:00AM to 1:00AM (Season 1 Minute to Minute)
12:03 A.M. - Jack Bauer plays chess with his daughter Kimberly in their home.

Hat Tip: 24 (English)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Coffee and Chess

So now I know why so many chess clubs meet in coffeehouses:

Coffee stimulates conscious mental associations, whereas alcohol, for instance, provokes instinctual responses. In other words, alcohol typically makes us want to eat, fight, make love, dance, and sleep, whereas coffee encourages us to think, talk, read, write, or work.... For the Moslems, the world's first coffee drinkers, coffee was the "wine of Apollo," the beverage of thought, dream, and dialectic, "the milk of thinkers and chess players."

....From the inception of the coffeehouse in Mecca to the present, customers in cafes tend to talk and read rather than dance, play chess rather than gamble, and listen contemplatively to music rather than sing.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Kissing Chess

Some people just love to play the game...

We headed out to Kelsey's & had some drinks at their little bar area & we ran into Chess, this guy I used to work with back in the day. Yeah, that's really his name. Chess. His parents must have liked the game or something. Anyways, Emily headed out early because she has to start work at 8am, like a SUCKER, so Chess & I decided to head back to my place to try & catch The Office since he also enjoys the show, then we could catch up on what we've been up to since we last talked. Half an hour before the show starts & Chess tells me he had had a crush on me when we worked together, & I quickly see where this is going & I know I have a limited amount of time before he tells me he still does, then I have to react & I don't know what I think of it all. I've never thought of him romantically. But in lieu of telling me he decides to show me. Yep, just leaned in for a kiss, & there I am still trying to figure out whether I like him or not. He's attractive & we got along quite well back in the day, but I don't know him now, but surprisingly I kiss him right back. He's a good kisser, what can I say?

Friday, April 07, 2006

World Champion Fashion

In Wijk Ann Zee, FIDE World Chess Champion Veselin Topalov showed off the latest in chess biker wear.

Measuring the Chess Blogosphere II

It has been awhile since my first post on this topic. Since then, I've thought of several other ways to try to rank chess blogs, though many would require time consuming research I haven't been inclined to embark upon.

One relatively easy way (though, as usual, fraught with issues and limitations) is by Google Page Rank (click the link for the wikpedia entry on Page Rank). For purposes of this post, all I'll say is that Page Rank is another derivative measure of the number of links your site has from other websites. Scaled from 0-10, the higher the number the greater probability that your site will place higher in Google searches (which in turn, might lead to a larger number of visitors finding your site through searches). However, Page Rank is not a measure of visitors, page views or quality.

A Page Rank of zero can have several meanings. If your blog is relatively new it is possible that Google has not yet indexed it. Even if it has been indexed, it is possible that Google has yet to update its Page Ranks, which it seems to do only several times a year. If your blog has been around for 4-6 months or so and still has a zero, then I'm sorry to say that score is probably "earned."

Let's take a look at the numbers, beginning with the currently active Knights Errant:

4 - Blue Devil, Generalkaia, Montse, Phorku, Temposchlucker

3 - CelticDeath, Druss, Funkyfantom, Fussy Lizard, Guru, J'adoube, King of the Spill, Pale Morning Dun, Pawn Sensei, Pomaranch Captain, Salcido, Sancho Pawnza, Smith-Morra, St. Patzer, Takchess

0 - Blunder Prone, Mate in Three, Pendrax

A few of the foreign language chess blogs stand out from the rest:

6 - Tour a tour

5 - Schachblatter

4 - Vaatleja

3 or less - all other foreign language blogs

The ranking of Estonian blog Vaatleja seems a bit incongruent, though perhaps all 20 other Estonian blogs in the sphere link to it :).

Among all other active chess blogs, the highest rankings ones are oftentimes expected though occasionally surprising:

6 - About Chess, ChessBase News, The Chessmill

5 - Boylston Chess Club Weblog, Daily Dirt Chess Blog, GM Alexandra Kosteniuk's Podcasts, Magnifichess, Open Chess Diary, Susan Polgar Chess Blog

4 - Chess Game in Colour, Chess News and Events, FIDE Chess in Chicago, Jim Eade's Chess Journal, King's Gambit, Online Chess Blog,, Shakmaty Bereolos, Slugfest, the Ruy Lopez show, The 64 Square Jungle, The Chess Mind, The Kenilworthian

3 or less - everyone else

I don't know how to explain the ranking of The Chessmill, though its archives go back to July 2002 so perhaps longevity is a factor. Magnifichess is one of many blogs that the author interlinks (demonstrating one of the methods by which these rankings can be manipulated). The rest seem consistent with my expectations.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Chess on TV - for real!

Game Show Network (GSN) has been airing a documentary series entitled "Anything to Win." On April 9th at 8pm EDT look for the premiere of the next installment, "The Mad Genius of Bobby Fischer."

In addition to excellent Chess tactics, Fischer was known to utilize the element of intimidation and control in challenging opponents, organizations and governments. From using extreme psychological warfare to defeat Boris Spassky for the title of World Chess Champion, to defying the United States government in order to play a match on his terms, Fischer has proven he will do anything - rational or not - to win.

Crossing the line


Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Shahade Storms Western Mass

Two chances to see "Chess Bitch" author WIM Jennifer Shahade in Amherst, Massachusetts this Saturday, April 8th.

1:00pm - Talk, 2:00pm - Simul
Seeley G. Mudd Building
Amherst College Campus map

8:00pm - Book Reading and Signing

Where it all happens first

Howard Goldowsky has an amusing April Fool's Day piece up at ChessCafe in which he pokes good natured fun at many topics in Caissa's domain. While Howard doesn't mention the chess blogosphere specifically, it is quite clear that our bastion of the chess world serves as inspiration and source material for his article.

First, consider these lines in his comments about Susan Bipolar:
This needs to be said for her benefit -- Susan never steals content from other websites, and she never uses ghostwritten material from Paulways Wrong, her lover (I mean, friend) and PR man -- this just needs to be said for the record.

Next, he has some friendly jibes for all the MDLMers out there:
I've been following a training program invented by this fellow, Cant Make de la Masta....

He has this training program called the Satan Circles, where, on the last day of the program, you need to practice making both live animal sacrifices as well as sacrifices with chess pieces on a board. You need to sit for, like, ten straight hours, solving chess problems and slicing, at an average of one neck every 30 seconds, the heads off various rodents and squirrels. It's quite a tedious and emotionally painful process...

Finally, to demonstrate conclusively that the blogosphere served as his source, consider this comment which Howard left on a BCC Weblog post about competitive fashion...
The babes are the distraction, man. It's the babes.

I remember once, when I was 16 or 17, I was playing in the National HS Championships down in Knoxville, TN. There was a girl there -- her name was Mimi -- and she was from Sweden. She had the long, straight, deep blond hair and blue eyes that you think about when you think about 16 year old Swedish girls. And she came with her Mom, who was also blonde and beautiful. (I am not kidding.) I don't know why they were there. I think they were visiting family or friends, and their visit just happened to coincide with the tournament.

This girl was a serious player, too. She was rated over 1900. She destroyed all of us HS hacks, and it was embarrassing. She spoke English with an accent like a perfect melody. In the Skittles room, teenage boys were lined up four rows deep watching her play. Everybody wanted to be near her, to talk to her, to look at her. Every day I think she just wore jeans, sneaker, and a T. It didn't matter.
...and compare it to this passage from his piece:
The babes are the distraction. I remember once, when I was 16 or 17, I was playing in the National HS Championships down in Dallas, Texas. There was a girl there -- her name was Mia, Mia Crumbling, or something like that -- and she was from Sweden. She had the long, straight, blond hair and blue eyes that you think about when you think about 16-year-old Swedish girls. I don't know why she was there. I think she was visiting her family or something, and her visit just happened to coincide with the tournament.

This girl was a serious player. She was rated over 2200 while, you know, my friends and I were class-E hacks. She destroyed all of us, and it was embarrassing. Every day she just wore jeans, sneakers, and a T-shirt, but it didn't matter.

Chess Blogs, the cutting edge of chess culture -- be a reader!

Chess Poetry VII

Lovechess by Ivory Sand

When the game starts in the dawn
I suddenly see move a pawn.
The sun is rising and gives us light,
and you see move my knight.

The game goes on, you take my men,
and I take yours where I can.
The end is nearing and we 're tired
But we all are inspired..

Please say yes,
let's play chess,
let's play chess of love.


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Why can't we get tournament sites like this?

From "Chess league gets a practice jump on state tourney" at the Chico (CA) Enterprise Record:
With the idea of giving students practice at longer game times, some 100 school-age chess players from all over the county and beyond attended a tournament Saturday.

Space was provided at Sierra Nevada Brewery for the 96 players in the Sacramento Valley Scholastic Chess League.
I wonder if they provided post-tournament samples to the kids?

Blogosphere Potpourri

Here are a few happenings from around the chess sphere:

  • chess_underground has announced the inaugural issue of underground_review -- a free newsletter covering "the other side of chess." Sounds spooky.

  • Chess Improvement, the blog formerly known as GilaChess, is now the blog formerly known as Chess Improvement. This week's name is Chess Training (not to be confused with Jeff Ashton's Chess Training Blog). I hope he makes his mind up soon.

  • Need a fix of inane conversation, music and bad chess? After a long hiatus, the Ruy Lopez show is back with a new podcast.

  • en passant Schachblog shows off the newest in chess clock fashion.

  • As always there are plenty of new listings, especially if you speak Spanish or Portuguese.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Boylston team wins US Amateur Championship

Congratulations to Boylston Chess Club Members Charles Riordan, Alex Cherniack, Lawyer Times and Charlie Mays who won yesterday's playoff for the 2006 US Amateur Team Championship. In the semi-final round they defeated Team South 3-1 and got by Team West in the finals by a 2.5-1.5 score. Hopefully when Charles has a chance, he'll provide some direct participant commentary on the day's matches.

While the USCF doesn't provide cash prizes for the tournament (presumably to preserve the players' Olympic eligibility :)), I suspect we'll see the new Champions sporting their engraved commemorative watches around the club.

Related Posts: US Amateur Team Championship - Boylston invades New Jersey...

At the speed of light

They have some crazy scholastic tournament chess rules in England too:

The only real trick with this tournament is the "silent check" rule. So that games may be swift (you are expected to play up to 32 games in 2 hours in the first round), the "check" and "en garde" rules are muffled - if you uncover your king, the king gets taken; if I place you in check and you don't notice and don't block, again, the king gets taken. I've told others about this and they shriek that "that isn't how chess is played!", but that is how it goes at this tournament!

Let's see ... 32 games in 120 minutes is less than 4 minutes per game. So if you figure it takes a few seconds to find your next opponent and set-up between games, then they must be playing bullet chess. In that case, I suppose the king capture rules aren't all that unreasonable. On the other hand, why would they be running a bullet chess tournament for kids?

The pulse of chess nation

You can read BCC Weblog or get the word rehashed a day later.
Update (11:15am): Again!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Simple Minds

This morning's Sunday New York Times includes two articles which tangentially touch upon the topic of Chess on TV.

The first piece, located on the front page, is entitled "After Luck With Poker, ESPN Bets on New York Dominoes." That's right folks, televised Dominoes. As the article explains...
To the occasional domino player, it is a stretch to even call this quiet game of straight-faced strategy a sport. But anyone who has spent time in a Latino neighborhood in New York City could testify that dominoes played there - with the slammed-down tiles, the verbal sparring, the bragging and bluffing -— is no parlor game.

From the opening bid, a simple sidewalk match will quickly escalate into a raucous, freewheeling spectacle: a mini-fiesta where salsa and cigars, Bacardi and brown-bagged beers have as much a role as the little colored tiles with dots.

The games almost always draw spectators, so perhaps it is no surprise that the ESPN sports network has declared dominoes the next big spectator sport and is promoting it as both a colorful cultural touchstone and a highly competitive game, complete with rankings, formal tournaments, celebrity events and sponsors.
Obviously, the sports network big-wigs have taken from the poker experience, the lesson that simpler games work better on television. Yes, I know poker isn't actually a simple game at all, but as former chess player and WSOP champion Dan Harrington has stated, " is rather thin, compared to chess." What do you suppose is next on the agenda - Marbles, Gin Rummy, Three Card Monty, Candyland?

In the Business section, you'll find "Low-Cost Workouts for Young Minds." It's pretty much a standard piece on scholastic chess (including the obligatory quote from Susan Polgar), the business angle being that for most kids (i.e., those that don't get on the National Scholastic tournament circuit) the cost of playing chess is much less than many other activities " ice skating, ballet, squash, golf or the piano..." Near the end of article, they mention this interesting tidbit:
This spring, the game may make a bigger splash with the public. Following on the heels of television's "Celebrity Poker" and "Dancing With the Stars," ESPN has signed a deal to produce a televised celebrity chess tournament featuring Woody Harrelson, Wesley Snipes and others. "This is a charity tournament, but we hope to grow televised chess with sponsors and prize money," said Giovanni James, who is producing the show with Penny Marshall.
I've watched "Celebrity Poker" and have even enjoyed it, but I realize that much of it is poorly played poker. It will be interesting to see if there is a similar market for mediocre chess.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Revolutionary Chess Quote of the Day

"Until we all start raging against the machine, the machine will continue to beat us at chess." - Ethan Allen Hawley