Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Resurrection?

Back in October Dennis Monokroussos declared his blog closed. Since then we've heard nothing ... until today! Check out four new posts on schedule changes for his ChessBase shows, Blogroll changes, new products, and the current state of the World Championship.

Is this just a last gasp or has The Chess Mind been revived? Dennis, care to enlighten us?

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Chess Bitch and the Beauty Salon

A few bloggers have already commented on the Gothamist's interview with Jennifer Shahade. The Hungarian focused on her thoughts regarding what poker can teach chess about promoting itself, while The Kenilworthian was more interested in her comments on how to make the website more popular. For my part, this is the question and answer that caught my eye:
On your website, you have photos of various friends and family members modeling the same pink wig you wear on the cover of your book, and you sporting an assortment of other wigs. What's so appealing about wigs, and which one's your favorite?

Well, changing your hair changes your personality. My hair is naturally very curly, but I used to get it straightened a lot. I’d immediately feel like a different person. Neater, more organized, more together and ready to attack life.

Wigs can give you the same kind of feeling, but it’s not permanent and it doesn’t damage your hair like too many blow dries does.
Maybe my next assault on Expert/Masterdom should be accompanied by a new 'do?

I can't think of anything wittty to say

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Better wear gloves

The city of Moscow is planning a telephone match with London to be played in Pushkin Square on a chess set fashioned out of ice.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

What are you doing for New Year's?

Start your new year right at the annual Herb Healy Open House on New Year's day (the Boylston Chess Club's annual party and fund raiser).
  • If you were up late celebrating on New Year's eve, not to worry - first round is 11:45

  • If you don't feel like rated games in the rated section, play in the unrated section

  • If game 30 is too quick for your taste, this year the time control is changed to G/45

  • If you are not a member of the BCF, no problem -- you do not need to be a BCF member to enjoy the tournament and food and fellowship, though it is a traditional time for many to join or rejoin

Monday, January 1st: BCF Herb Healy Open House 4SS; G/45; 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

Adapted from a Bob Oresick e-mail
P.S. At past years' events, more than one chess blogger has been known to show up.


Over the past couple months, I've read a few posts about the website which applies the six degrees of separation model to the 2005 Megabase to determine how many defeated opponents stand between you and Garry Kasparov. The most recent post at the Streatham & Brixton Chess Club blog finally motivated me to try it on myself.

Since I don't have any won games in the database, I approached the problem by entering the names of the best opponents I've beaten and then added one to their number. I started with Masters that I've defeated.

Shapiro, Daniel E vs. Riordan, Charles 0-1, US op swiss USA 2001
Shapiro, Daniel E vs. Kreiman, Boris 1-0, Nassau CC-ch swiss USA 1995
Yermolinsky, Alex vs. Kreiman, Boris 0-1, World op swiss USA 1997
Kasparov, Garry vs. Yermolinsky, Alex 0-1, Leningrad game URS 1975

Charles' Kasparov Number = 4; My Kasparov Number = 5

Cherniack, Alex vs. Godin, Eric J 0-1, Boylston CC-ch tourn USA 1997
Cherniack, Alex vs. Paschall, William M 1-0, Boylston CC-ch tourn USA 1994
Yermolinsky, Alex vs. Paschall, William M 0-1, New York Syracuse swiss USA 1995
Kasparov, Garry vs. Yermolinsky, Alex 0-1, Leningrad game URS 1975

Eric's Kasparov Number = 4; My Kasparov Number = 5

But surprisingly my lowest Kasparov Number comes from an expert, my friend and clubmate Alex Slive.

Slive, Alex vs. Paschall, William M 1-0, Boylston CC-ch tourn USA 1994
Yermolinsky, Alex vs. Paschall, William M 0-1, New York Syracuse swiss USA 1995
Kasparov, Garry vs. Yermolinsky, Alex 0-1, Leningrad game URS 1975

Alex's Kasparov Number = 3; My Kasparov Number = 4

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Happy Returns

It's the age old question, naming your worst Christmas gift. 'Paintbrushes' was one response on the street Wednesday. As was 'having my truck burn,' or 'getting a Charlie Brown sweater in Grade 6' or 'getting a chess board'.
Read "Bad gifts are very personal" from Thunder Bay's Source.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Yet another list of top chess blogs

At Chess Cafe, Steve Goldberg includes chess blogs in his "Survey of Interesting Websites." His picks -- 64 Square Jungle, Boylston Chess Club, ChessBase News, Daily Dirt, Scholastic Chess Gateway, Susan Polgar, Chess Life Online, and The Chess Drum.

A few notes:
  • Scholastic Chess Gateway is his own blog (not that there's anything wrong with self-promotion).
  • The Chess Drum is a fine site, though I don't consider it a blog.
  • About Chess is included in the Instruction & Training category.
  • While I am certainly pleased to see BCC Weblog on the list, it only gets credit for "maintain[ing] an extensive set of chess links."
    (Don't worry, I'll get over it.)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Chess more challenging than watching TV

It may only be one piece of anecdotal evidence but I'm sure the long-term double-blind studies will show that it is true:
"I like to think out of the box," said Mastin as she gazed over the chess board looking for her next move. "It challenges me more than sitting around watching T.V."
Read "Mates check-in at school chess club" from the Henry (County, GA) Daily Herald.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Robert Tanner chess improvement program

Maybe I missed it, but I don't remember anyone writing about this bit of US Chess politics:
A chess coach at 10 schools in the Phoenix metro area has resigned from the U.S. Chess Federation executive board under accusations he manipulated tournament results to gain his title as a chess master....

[Current USCF Executive Board Member Sam] Sloan's complaint alleges that [Robert] Tanner achieved the titles of master and "original life master" by playing repeated games in 1991 and 1992 within a closed group of friends that moved together among remote places such as Teton, Wyo., Wendover, Nev., and Ceres, Calif....

Sloan said the players in the group shared Tanner's home address, and none of the nine men except Tanner ever competed outside the group.

"They are quite clearly fake people," Sloan said. "They don't exist."

Tanner maintains he did nothing illegal. He said the matches actually occurred, and the ethics committee supported his claim that the opponents were real people.

However, Tanner acknowledges in his Sept. 15 response to the committee that he circumvented the "spirit of the regulations" in the early 1990s while working to regain the master title he held in the 1980s. None of the opponents, he said, were legitimate masters or even expert-level players.
As distasteful as it is to agree with an convicted alleged pedophile, it does seem that Mr. Tanner got caught with his hand in the "ratings" cookie jar. Here's another more detailed article.

Arrivederci Amici Anziani

Some long-timers hit the inactive rolls this month:

From the sidebar - The Chess Mind (now a Classic), BlueEyedRook, ChessVault

Among the Knights Errant - Sancho Pawnza, CelticDeath, The Hungarian Knight

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

IM Vigorito lecture tomorrow night

The Boylston Chess Club Master Lecture Series presents:

A 90-minute lecture by IM David Vigorito

"Sneak Preview"
When: Wednesday, December 20th, 7:00 p.m.

Where: The Boylston Chess Club

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

IM Vigorito will be drawing on material from a new and as yet unpublished book, so here is a chance to get an early look. He will be selecting particularly instructive games and moments from the book for this lecture.

IM David Vigorito has won a number of tournaments in the US and Budapest. David has been the state champion of New Hampshire and Nevada and recently qualified for the US Championship by finishing in a tie for 3rd place at the US Open in Phoenix. David is an active chess coach for students of all ages in schools.

Light refreshments will be served.

Another reviewer of the chess 'sphere

Aussie chess blogger Chess Tyro lists his favorites. After mentioning the usual suspects -- About Chess, Susan Polgar, Boylston, and the Kenilworthian -- he moves on to the chess improvement category:
But my favourite chess blogs are those similar to this (or at least what I hope this blog will become) – patzers chronicling their journey towards chess improvement. Three of the ones whose stories I follow are Rocky Rook, Chess for Blood, and Chess Improvement by Effort (ed: aka Temposhlucker).

Friday, December 15, 2006

Are time delay and time increment the same?

Those who play online quickly become familiar with the concept of time increment. For example they might play games at 5 minutes + 5 seconds/move or 2 minutes + 12 seconds/move. In these cases the increment (say 5 seconds) is added to your time before each move; so if your clock reads 4:02 while your opponent is pondering his move, it moves up to 4:07 when it is your turn to move. Time increment has also been used over the board in FIDE tournaments with 90 minutes + 30 seconds/move a common variation.

However, over the board in the U.S. (and perhaps elsewhere?) we use time delay instead. In this case, the 5 seconds are not added to our time but instead the clock pauses for 5 seconds before continuing to count down. Obviously this has implications for the type of chess clock one might consider purchasing since some have time delay, others time increment, and still others both modes.
Given this, I was surprised to read this post at NYChessKids about the DGT 2000 Chess Clock. Since this clock only offers time increment it has not been particularly popular in the states. However, the poster notes that:
...the current (5th edition) of U.S. Chess Federation rules state that DELAY and INCREMENT are considered equivalent: not only do few players know this, probably the majority of tournament directors do not realize this either, given the lack of uniformity in training and qualifications of TDs who direct events.

In summary: the DGT is the official clock of the International Chess Federation, and is perfectly acceptable in USCF-rated events.
Hey tournament directors: Is this really true? Can I use time increment at the next tournament I play in where time delay is in use?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

It's hard to find good help

The Barrista of Bloomfield Ave. - a favorite of Don Q - mentions the installation of a couple of granite chess tables in a Montclair, NJ park in memory of a local chess player. Regrettably, as several commenters point out, it looks like the tables were installed with the boards in the wrong position (black square in the lower right-hand corner).

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Hot Stove Chess League

ESPN's Buster Olney on the negotiations between the Boston Red Sox and Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka's agent Scott Boras:
Boras is extraordinary at what he does, at extracting a volume of dollars from places that you never would've imagined. He is like a chess master, and every negotiation is a match to be won.
Hat Tip: Sports Media Review by Jonathan Weiler

Some "mainstream" recognition

Excite Mix's WebTwitcher Amanda Lorenzani makes her chess blog feed recommendations:
And of the blogs to follow for chess enthusiasts? Visit Chess Lodge (ed: aka Chess News & Events) and The Closet Grandmaster for all things chess flavoured and add their RSS feeds to your MIX if you fancy a dabble at the risque game yourself.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Seeking Higher Ground

With all the discussion of drug testing in chess, have you ever wondered what sport has the highest percentage of its athletes testing positive for banned substances? Cycling? Baseball? Au contraire, the answer is Billiards. Others high on the list include Sumo Wrestling, Golf and Bridge(!).

Read "Billiards pockets doping record" from The Toronto Star.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Boylston Chess & Poker Club

Former BCC president and current poker professional Bryan Clark sent me a link to this Two Plus Two Internet Magazine interview with former club Champion and current poker tournament superstar "Action" Dan Harrington. There isn't very much chess content, but Caissa does get a brief mention or two:
deacsoft: After attending Suffolk University you had a career as a bankruptcy lawyer. What lead you away from that career and into the poker world?

Dan Harrington: I just got sick of that and just drifted into it. I’d always played backgammon, poker, and chess. I’d noticed that I had a natural ability for games, and I just got lucky. I drifted into it....

deacsoft: Prior to your success in the poker world you were a champion backgammon and chess player. There seems to be a number of successful poker players who were accomplished backgammon and/or chess players first. Are there skills that can be learned in backgammon or chess that can help in a players’ development in poker?

Dan Harrington: Yes, definitely. I think there’s cross-pollination between games....
By the way, it turns out that Bryan is the current editor of Two Plus Two Internet Magazine -- some "legitimate", albeit part time work, to supplement his poker income.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Chess and Gender

Jo22 writes about the unique pressures she faces as a female chess player:
It reminded me of every Tuesday evening, when I play chess with various people at a local pub. I am nearly always the only woman playing. Every time I play a newcomer, or when men (they are usually men) are watching my games, I invariably feel an intense pressure not to lose...

The pressure I feel is that if I lose, my opponent or the people watching won't think, "she can't play chess", but "women can't play chess". It's a very uncomfortable pressure and it annoys me that men don't have to experience it.

1% inspiration, 99% perspiration

Best of luck to Java Joe on his new project - Chess Castle of Minnesota Blog.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Blitz shut out of USCL All Star teams

The US Chess League Champion San Francisco Mechanics secured three of eight spots in the 2006 USCL All Star team selections, with the remaining spots going to players from Carolina(2), Miami, Dallas and Philadelphia. Outside of San Francisco, it seems that overall team results were not a major factor with neither the Eastern Division regular season champion Boston Blitz nor the Western Division runner-up Seattle Sluggers receiving any spots.

As for the Blitz, three of their players did receive some consideration:
Board 1 (2nd Team) - "This was a more difficult decision for the judges. Boston's GM Larry Christiansen had a higher performance rating, but Josh was the one who came through huge for his team in the playoffs, with a key win over GM Serper in the SemiFinals and the tiebreaker win over GM Charbonneau that gave San Francisco the League Championship. Friedel is also over 100 points lower rated than Christiansen, which may have given San Francisco the extra points to use on the lower boards that helped them win the Championship."

Board 2 (2nd Team) - "Other candidates were William Kelleher, who also had a high performance rating of 2595, but he only played 5 games and thus couldn't reasonably get the nod over Bhat."

Board 3 (2nd Team) - "Charles Riordan was also a very serious candidate with a very nice performance rating of 2534 after 6 games. Again his lack of games played was what held him back.... An extra half point for ... Riordan ... would have almost surely given [him] a place on the All Star Teams."

Don't teach terrorists how to play chess

At the American Chronicle, Dale Netherton describes the war on terror as a battle between Chess-masters and Tantrum Throwers.

These two antagonists have reappeared over and over in history and the result of their clashes is overwhelmingly in favor of the chess-master.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

More Chess Theatre

If they can make a musical out of "Legally Blond", then why not Paul Morphy - The Play?
It's quickly clear area playwright Noah Sheola has great respect, and a fondness for his subject. When he's done with you, you'll feel the same. Morphy, an American, was a chess prodigy in the mid 1800s. He is considered one of the greatest players of all time, the first ever American to be given this distinction.

It's a tragic story of a man who most likely found his talent trivial, perhaps simply unchallenging.... His portrayal of the man is subtle yet deeply moving.

"Morphy," is an incredibly clean premiering script, needing little more than a touch of the pen for refinement. Its dialogue is clear, at times approaches poetic -- without the side of syrup. There's also a lot of humor, both sweet and broad, giving balance to the angst, insecurity, and sadness.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Next Evolution

There's tactics, there's strategy, and now there is abstraction:
Abstract Chess is a game of collaborative, competitive art-making.

Play consists of two players sitting on opposite sides of a canvas (usually an index or recipe card) taking turns making abstract marks until they are both satisfied with the result.

A new recruiting tool for college athletics

From Checkmate: Wolverines bond through chess at The Michigan Daily:
Ever wonder the real reason running back Mike Hart decided to come to Michigan?

Ask Leon Hall, and he'll point to a game they played when Hart visited Ann Arbor on his recruiting trip.


"(When Leon pulled out the board) I thought he was real smart, but then I learned he didn't really know how to play," Hart joked at Michigan Media Day. "He thought it was checkers."

Hart emphasized the fact that he beat Hall. But the cornerback spins a different tale from their first match.

"He beat me once, but I won the series," Hall said. "We played three games. I know I won the series. He beat me. He's not lying to you, he beat me, but if he was 1-4, what was that? He won a game, but he lost the other four."
The NCAA has promised an investigation into how Hart went 1-4 in three games.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Wamala indicted on 34 counts

From The Lowell Sun:
Former Lowell High School Math Department Chairman Severine Wamala has been indicted by a grand jury on 34 counts of felony sexual-assault charges involving three women.

Wamala, 45, was scheduled to be arraigned this morning [ed: December 1st] in Hillsborough County Superior Court in Nashua. He is currently being held in the Manchester House of Correction on $1 million cash bail.

Wamala was arrested Sept. 12 and charged with 30 counts of rape and incest after three young women, ranging in age from their teens to early 20s, accused him of sexually assaulting some of them over a period of seven years.

One set of charges involve a 15-year-old girl who accuses Wamala of raping her at least twice a month from October 2005 to August 2006....

Wamala is currently on paid administrative leave, but that status will change to unpaid leave with his indictment....

A skilled chess player, Wamala coached the LHS chess team and boosted its membership from 10 members to 150. The team has done well at tournaments, and Wamala's own children are nationally ranked players....
From The Nashua Telegraph:
Wamala was indicted last week on 34 felony sexual assault charges, including 23 counts of aggravated felonious sexual assault. Each of the 34 charges carries a maximum of 10 to 20 years in prison....

Most of the charges against Wamala involve a 15-year-old girl. Wamala is charged with raping the girl at least twice a month from October 2005 through August. He also is charged with raping two older women, each repeatedly.
Related Post: Severine Speaks

Friday, December 01, 2006

Sirloin Chess

Surely vegetarians will be disgusted, but even a protein-lover like me thinks this is pretty weird. It's a sculpture entitled "cutting board."
Two butchers play an unusual game of chess [on] a board made with steaks sliced into squares. The steak is cut into 2" by 2" pieces, with 64 pieces cut total, 32 of them kissed by a frying pan and hence enhanced in color. The meat is then arranged on a 16" x 16" platform of clear acrylic and placed on top of a podium. On either side of the sculpture are LCD panels hung from the ceiling in portrait orientation. Each panel plays a 20-minute loop of a butcher contemplating his next move.
Be sure to check out the video clip.

Hat Tip: we make money not art

"He taught me chess and saved my life"

Orrin C. Hudson has been traveling the country teaching children love, honesty, respect, responsibility and patience all by playing a simple game of chess.

Hudson was an Alabama State Trooper who saw one too many kids killed. He finally turned in his gun and badge and examined ways he could make a difference. Rather than deal with the effects of bad choices, he decided he needed to teach children to make the right ones from the beginning. He wanted to do something that would encourage children to do something positive with their lives instead of doing nothing at all.
Read "Chess Prepares for the Game of Life" from the Cedar City Review.