Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Veterinary Chess

Apparently even the heroic attempts to save Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro's life depended on the good graces of Caissa.
"It's kind of like playing a chess game," Bramlage said. "Whenever you get confronted with something different, you have to make the right moves. You have to be impressed with the number of right moves Dr. Richardson made. They got close, and if not for a little bad luck they would have made it."
Read "Kentucky Derby Winner Barbaro Euthanized After Numerous Injuries" at

Police Blotter Chess

Porterville Police Department officers arrested several people suspected of attacking a South Chess Terrace man Saturday.
From "Suspects nabbed in stabbing" at The Porterville (CA) Recorder.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Women can't be bothered to play chess

At Pure Pedantry, Jake Young reviews a research paper by Christopher Chabris and Mark (not my cousin) Glickman entitled "Sex Differences in Intellectual Performance: Analysis of a Large Cohort of Competitive Chess Players." Mr. Young's post is a bit of a challenging read itself, so I didn't even try to read the research paper. However, the primary conclusion of the paper (as summarized by Young) is fairly interesting.
This data strongly argues that the difference in performance of women in chess is ... a problem of participation. The problem is not that women can't play chess well. The problem is that enough women who play chess well are not choosing to play chess.
Makes sense to me.

Different vocabulary, similar concepts

Yehuda returned to chess after many years of not playing. Since in the interim he had been focused on other types of abstract strategy games (he calls them "Euro-games"), he decided to apply principles from those games to chess.
Now, when you come back to chess after playing hundreds of Euro-games, you approach the game quite differently. Instead of seeing the game of chess as "chess", which has its own rules, patterns, and history, you approach the game like you approach any other tactical, area-control game.

Actually, not area-control. I approached the game as a resource game. Each turn I had one action resource, and I had sixteen meeples to play with, each with its own movement actions. The game ends when someone is about to lose their king meeple.

So my approach to the game was from an action point point-of-view. I figured that whenever I had more meeples, and more available actions from which to choose, then I was probably winning. And that meant that I could exchange pieces so long as I kept the upper-hand. Furthermore, when my opponent had less actions available, they were more likely to make bad ones.
Fascinating, really. When you cut through the new vocabulary, what he's taking about is material superiority and Temposhlucker's favorite piece activity. No mention of tactics though I suppose that might be implicit in achieving a material advantage.

Monday, January 29, 2007

So boring, they created a chess club

This should make you happy that you don't live in Florence, Kentucky (bold is mine):
Chess enthusiasts no longer have to leave Florence to meet other players for a casual game. A small group has been meeting the past four Wednesday evenings at the Florence Branch Library for play for all experience levels. Librarian Scott Beran, who oversees the group, said the chess club was created in response to popular demand. "Some people had ... expressed an interest because there's nothing else around here," he said.
From "Florence Library hosts chess club" at the Community Press.

Friday, January 26, 2007

If only we'd known

Years of war, tens of thousands dead and injured, and now it turns out that something as simple as chess could plant the seeds of capitalism in Vietnam.
Competitors in the 2007 World Chess Championship qualifiers (zone 3.3) on the southern Phu Quoc Island have been given an added incentive to do well – US$10,000 in prize money.

The Viet Nam Chess Federation (VCF)’s general secretary, Dang Tat Thang, said Dragon Capital from England, the tournament’s main sponsor, is providing the money. It will be the first time a chess tournament in Viet Nam has carried a cash prize.
US dollars, no less!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Kelleher gets 9th best game of the 2006 season

The Game of the Year contest continues on at the US Chess League website. The judges have selected Kelleher-Enkhbat from the Boston Blitz's week 10 win over the Baltimore Kingfishers as the 9th best game of the year. Bill's win helped knock the 2005 Champions out of 2006 playoff contention.

The judges appreciated Kelleher's rook sacrifice which ripped open Black's kingside and led directly to a mating attack. IM Shahade also mentioned that the contest has instructional value showing clear plans of attack and defense in an isolated queen pawn position.

Those who have previously questioned WFM Vicary's role on the panel of judges will find more fodder in her comments about this game:
"This game looks similar to a dream I had last night about a horse and a real estate agent."

Gangs of Hastings

I've never been to Hastings, but based on everything I'd previously read I was quite surprised to learn how much it must have in common with the back alleys of Manchester.

From The Argus:
A teenage chess sensation was mugged by an eight-strong gang shortly after taking part in a major competition.

Grandmaster Farhad Tahirov, 19, was kicked and punched and had £1,000 stolen from him by the gang after the 82nd Hastings International Chess Congress.
Where was Jane Tennison?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007

Why Kramnik was hiding in the bathroom

The french blog Echecs, cinéma, TV et DVD... léger presents photographic evidence that Veselin Topalov is the reincarnation of horror film legend Bela Lugosi.

Caption Contest XIII

Timmy always thought that being Siamese
twinned with a table was a major drag,
until he discovered chess, that is.

Post your caption in the comments.


Friday, January 19, 2007

Using human chess to help the local economy

From "Live chess tourney proposed" at The Beacon:
...a Stockton businessman.... Fred Strackhouse plans to set up a human chess tournament on squares marked off in the parking lot of his Stockton Inn to help the town's businesses get over the winter slump.

High school students will move around the board as life-size pawns, knights, rooks, queens, kings and bishops. Participating schools would appoint their own respective chess masters to direct the moves of the "game pieces." Possibly they'll be costumed or wear their school colors or hold an emblem of the game piece they represent....

He is working out a plan to coordinate a months-long elimination tournament featuring schools from Bucks, Hunterdon and Mercer counties. If it works, he says he believes the weeknight games could be a boost for local businesses in the quieter winter months.
Does standing around a parking lot in New Jersey at night in the middle of winter dressed up like a chess piece sound like fun to you?

Does Mrs. J'adoube know?

my coffee guy asked me to play chess sometime. i agreed, but didn't set a date. i don't think i will now, even though i was excited when he asked. he's nice and all, cute too....
From "a date?" at [name removed to protect the innocent]'s Live Journal.

Update (1/27): In order to cover up the alleged affair, someone went as far as to delete the entire Live Journal. Suspects?

Thursday, January 18, 2007

And you thought biathalon was strange

First it was Moscow-London ice chess and now this:
The Hudson Valley Snowball Chess Championship will be held on Sunday, Jan. 21. Featuring both adult and scholastic chess tournaments, as well as a snowball-eating contest for scholastic chess players, this event will be hosted by the Coldenham Fire Department.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

More Knight Moves

As Blue Devil points out, change is constant among the Knights Errant. Some come, some go, some finish, some quit, some disappear, and some get hijacked. In particular, many of the foundational Knights' blogs are now inactive. Of what I generally think of as the original six -- Mandelamaza, Sancho Pawnza, Pale Morning Dun, Generalkaia, Pawn Sensei and J'adoube -- only three remain on the active list (including the General who was just added back after a long period of inactivity). We have not heard from either of the original founders -- The Man and Sancho -- in several months.

Here's a summary of recent changes among the Knights:
  • Recently added to the inactive list: Mandelamaza
  • Recently moved from inactive to active: Generalkaia
  • New Knight: Underpromoted
  • Recently hijacked: Grande Merda

Chess in Paradise


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Another LaMazan tests his mettle at the club

Knight Errant Blunder Prone journeyed in from the safety of the MetroWest suburbs to play in this past Saturday's BCC $10 Open. Here is his report.

Related Post: Takchess at the Herb Healy

Chess Jewelery

It's a little late for the holidays, but here's a gift for her that shows that you love her almost as much as your favorite board game.
Though, I'm not sure what to make of scary looking skeleton face.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

A puzzle, but not a chess puzzle

The disposition of the Robert Snyder case has me wondering what it is about our society that we impose mandatory sentences on drug dealers but let habitual child molesters plead out and avoid prison time.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Poor Harvard

Believe it or not, I'm actually starting to feel bad for Harvard University. It's hard to come across a mention of the Pan-Am Collegiate Chess Championships which doesn't mention that this or that school beat/ out-scored the Crimson. The idea that "all things being equal" Harvard should have the best chess team in the nation is, of course, absurd. Harvard doesn't recruit chess players, and while they do attract high achieving high school students there's no reason to think that their entering class should have a disproportionate share of outstanding chess players. We have some folks from Harvard who play at the club but they definitely don't constitute all the best players.

Nevertheless, if your chess team beats Harvard you'll hear it shouted from the rooftops. This time it's the press in Miami lauding the accomplishments of Miami Dade College. The article includes a nice video which is well worth watching (though I should point out that the University of Texas Longhorns did not qualify for the College World Series of Chess -- UTD's nickname is the Comets).


What do you think Matt should name his new boy band?

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

A new one for Goldowsky's library

Chess Rumble
By G. Neri
An illustrated novella
For ages 10 and up

Coming in Spring of '08
From Lee and Low Books

Terrell is an angry young man. His sister died. His father left. His mother works two jobs. He's overweight and pushed to the limits by his enemy, LeAlan. His only recourse for his anger is to use his fists. But his fists only get him in trouble. He's one fight away from getting kicked out of school when he meets a mysterious chess master named CM who challenges Terrell to fight his battles on the chess board.

So begins Terrell's journey as he fights to regain control of his life through chess....

From Teen Fiction From The Mind Of G. Neri

Monday, January 08, 2007

Can't we all just get along?

I just love this story about feuding chess parents in Gilbert, Arizona. It makes USCF politics seem tame.
During the Arizona Scholastic State Chess Championship last April at Gilbert High School, feuding Gilbert parents argued about everything from the display of banners to the proper place to eat snacks.

"The bickering has gone on so long," said Jill McKeever, a Finley Farms Elementary School chess mom, former association president and chess coach at Islands Elementary School. "It's gotten to this point now where we almost can't talk to each other."
What are they arguing about? Believe it or not, philosophy. Should scholastic chess emphasize fun and participation or winning?
"The philosophies of the organizations were always so different," said Christy Veit, a chess mom at Canyon Rim Elementary School. "They didn't get where we were coming from, and we didn't get where they were coming from."

The Burk club, which has won four consecutive state championships, trains with its own coach and focuses on winning. Other Gilbert schools take a more casual approach to chess.

Their coaches juggle eight or more clubs at the same time and root for all their players to do well at tournaments — even when the teams compete against each other. That has never made sense to the Burk parents.

"We don't see football, baseball or basketball coaches floating across schools in this district coaching at multiple schools," former Burk parent Lisa Haisley wrote in an e-mail. "I don’t think chess should either."
But now there are accusations of vote rigging and hostile takeovers.
Some chess parents say Burk families flooded the meeting. When they realized they didn't have enough votes to win, they stepped outside and called more friends on their cell phones.

Maneth, who earned a board position that night and now serves as president, said allegations that Burk staged a hostile takeover are false. He said Burk parents won the election because they offered the best vision for the future of Gilbert chess....

In the end, Burk parents emerged with control of the association they had previously shunned. And parents who had spent years building the association suddenly wanted nothing to do with it. The Gilbert chess world had turned upside down.
And who might you guess finds himself in the middle of this mess?
Many parents now take their children to tournaments organized by a rival group called SMARTChess. McKeever and three other Gilbert chess coaches started the nonprofit organization this summer.

One SMARTChess founder is Robert Tanner, the Gilbert coach who resigned this month from the U.S. Chess Federation executive board following an ethics reprimand. Tanner was disciplined in November following allegations that he manipulated tournament results in the early 1990s to boost his chess rating.
I can think of several directions this discussion might take. Here are a few questions you might want to ponder and comment on:
  1. Should scholastic chess be casual or highly competitive?
  2. Is parental involvement in organizing scholastic events a good thing? In the Boston area many scholastic events are organized by clubs (like the BCC) and independent organizers (e.g., Gus Gosselin).
  3. What do you think about limiting coaches to working at only one school? Seems to me they find it hard enough to make a living working at several.
  4. What's with Robert Tanner and controversy? I'd never heard of this guy until a few weeks ago and now suddenly he's everywhere.
In a related note - At the Herb Healy, Harold Dondis mentioned that he had heard that Gus Gosselin was very ill. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery.

Takchess at the Herb Healy

Chess bloggers don't naturally congregate in groups, at least in the "real" world, though a few were sighted on New Year's day at the Boylston Chess Club. The larger of the two people wearing red in the picture above is Knight Errant Takchess. Jim again found the competition at the club a bit stiffer than his typical PlayChess opponents. Check out his report on his day at the BCC.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Susan and the BCC

Susan Polgar has a new blog where she is posting hundreds of photographs (why she's using Blogger instead of a photo sharing site like Flickr is beyond me, but whatever). I noticed two shots which have a Boylston Chess Club connection:
  1. Susan with Boston Globe chess columnist and long-time BCC member Harold Dondis
  2. A picture from one of her chess cruises including BCC member GM Larry Christiansen

USCL ranks 2006 Games of the Week

At the US Chess League website, they have started a series ranking the 2006 Games of the Week from 1 through 13. The rankings are a group effort reflecting the opinions of League Commissioner IM Greg Shahade, NM Arun Sharma, NM Dennis Monokroussos and GM Alex Shabalov+WFM Elizabeth Vicary (working as a duo).

Number 12 on the list is Privman-Krasik from the Blitz's week 3 win over the New York Knights. The game featured Krasik's exciting Rook sacrifice 17...Rxe4!?

JG of JG's Master Quest fame takes exception to the ranking and argues that Ilya deserved better:
...I really think this really deserved some more credit in the voting. Imagine the match situation: Boston only won this match 3-1 so a loss for Krasik would have meant only a tie for the Blitz and Krasik still has the confidence to play the fantastic move Rxe4 when the consequences of a miscalculation would completely change the outcome of the match. I think it's a little strange not to take the situation in the match into serious consideration.
Strangely, in the USCL piece, the comments on this game from Shabalov/Vicary were censored by the league. While we'll probably never know why, JG speculates on a couple of possible explanations. My favorite is:
[Seattle Slugger's team manager] Clint Ballard pa[i]d off the judges to make sure Krasik would not finish near the top, but unfortunately this was included in the comment.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Herb Healy Results

The final crosstables for the 2007 BCC Herb Healy Open House have been posted in the news section of the Boylston Chess club website.

In the rated section, IM David Vigorito and Expert Joe Perl tied for 1st with perfect 4-0 records. While Vigorito didn't face a player rated over 2200 all day, Perl defeated both FM Chase and NM Shmelov. Jason Rihel also had a nice day scoring 3.5-0.5 including a draw with LM Godin and a last round win over young phenom Stuart Finney (who was undefeated after 3 rounds).

There was also a tie for first in the unrated section where GM Larry Christiansen and NM Alex Cherniack both scored 3.5 points. The two met in Round 3 and drew.

Several players claimed master scalps throughout the day including: Joe Perl (over FM Chase & NM Shmelov), Lawyer Times (over FM MacIntyre), Carey Theil (over NM Riordan), Stuart Finney (over LM Godin), David Glickman (over IM Fang), and Yogesh Raghunathan (over NM Enkin).

Grandmaster Kidnapped!

In a virtual sense anyway...

GM Nigel Davies' blog GM Growl ( has been hijacked.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

University of Maryland, Warsaw County

What with red shirt freshman, no show classes and "special" tutoring, big time college athletics strays far from the ideal of inter-school amateur competition. While most everyone knows that this is the case when watching football, basketball and hockey there's been little mainstream discussion of the problems which have plagued college chess. Instead, most of the coverage of college championships over the past few years has used the "little school from nowhere beats Harvard" theme. Of course the "little school", more often than not, is from Baltimore or Dallas.

This article in the Washington Post on the Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship starts with the same "beating up on the Ivies" premise, but does afford a couple of paragraphs to the somewhat questionable practices which were used to build UMBC and UTD into chess powerhouses:
The room is thick with tension and intrigue, born partly of the controversy that has surrounded some of the more excessive recruiting practices. As recently as three years ago, several teams, particularly UMBC and UT Dallas, were paying full scholarships, plus cash stipends, to grandmasters as old as 40. Players had nominal course loads and took as long as eight years to graduate.

The overlords of collegiate chess introduced reforms, including a rule against grandmasters over age 25, a six-year limit on competing and a requirement that players maintain a grade-point average of at least 2.0 and at least a half-time course schedule. But UMBC and UT Dallas have stayed dominant by recruiting players from countries including Russia, Poland and India. UMBC's top two players are over 25, grandfathered in under the old rules.

Some players still think the game is rigged. "It's just buying players and championships, and that's not appropriate," said Johnny Sadoff, a Harvard student from Silver Spring. "They should be legitimate students."

Video Killed the Radio Star

Or, as The Kenilworthian suggests, the endangered species might be the Chess Teacher. Like Michael, I too was impressed by the amateur video at Chess For Blood. My questions:
  • What tools were used to produce the video?
  • Are they readily available?
  • Are they easy to use?
For a different chess video experience, check out this 64 Square Jungle Production -- The Chess Life & Times of ChessDude64 (with cameos from ChessDad64 and ChessMom64 as well).

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

It's all downhill from here

Only one day into the new year and I can already declare that from a chess point of view 2007 is a major success. At yesterday's Herb Healy Open I defeated International Master Joe Fang in the second round. Of course there were mitigating factors -- it was an unrated section; the time control was G/45; after achieving an easily winning position I played pathetically during the time scramble and gave my opponent all sorts of unnecessary chances; I had just six seconds left on my clock when my opponent walked into a mate. Who cares? I defeated an IM!

Because of the time scramble I don't have a complete score of the game, but I do have the part where I played well:

[Event "2007 BCC Herb Healy Open - Unrated"]
[Site "Somerville, MA"]
[Date "1/1/2007"]
[Round "2"]
[White "IM Joe Fang"]
[Black "DG"]
[Result "0-1"]

1. d4 d5 2. Nf3 Nf6 3. c4 c6 4. e3 e6 5. Nbd2 Nbd7 6. Bd3 Bd6 7. e4 e5 8. cxd5 cxd5 9. dxe5 Nxe5 10. Nxe5 Bxe5 11. O-O O-O 12. exd5 Qxd5 13. Nc4 Bd4 14. Be3 Rd8 15. Be2 Be6 16. Qa4 b5 17. Qa5 bxc4 18. Qxd5 Rxd5 19. Bf3 Bxb2 20. Rab1 c3 21. Bxd5 Bxd5 22. a4 Be4 23. Rbd1 Nd5 24. Bd4 Bc2 25. Bxc3 Bxd1 26. Bxb2 Bxa4 [and Black won after a time scramble] 0-1

P.S. The picture in Bob Oresick's Herb Healy post below is from IM Fang-DG.

Annual BCC Herb Healy Open House 2007

The new year was ushered in with the annual Herb Healy Open House at the Boylston. Bernardo Iglesias and Mike Griffin (head chef) organized the party and tournament, for which Bernardo and Walter Driscoll were TDs.

It was a great turn-out, in numbers (67), in chess friends new and old, and in player strength, with 13 masters playing and FM Jacob Rasin and IM Satea al Husari visiting and observing.

The masters included FM Chris Chase, IM David Vigorito, FM Paul MacIntyre, FM Denys Shmelov, NM Lawyer Times, LM Eric Godin, NM Charles Riordan, GM Larry Christiansen, FM William Kelleher, NM Alex Cherniack, NM Max Enkin, NM Chris Williams, and IM Joe Fang.

Click here for photos by Robert Oresick.