Monday, April 30, 2007

What's in a name?

The US Chess League team from Philadelphia has announced that they are changing their name from the Masterminds to the Inventors. It seems there was some moniker overlap with a local chess club. The most relevant question, of course, is whether the team will be any more competitive under the new banner.

Speaking of names, Queens' selection of Pioneers continues to generate some heat. Here are comments from The Knights of Castle Kimbark's Tom Panelas posted in a comment at US Chess Online:
As a Queens native I'm happy to see my home borough enter the USCL, and since, alas, we don't have a team here in Chicago, where I live now, this is the one I'll root for. But I have to say, I don't get the pioneer/cowboy imagery. It doesn't fit with Queens. There aren't too many places in the borough to see a nice sunset, either....

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Stream of Blogiousness

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Have you seen this piece?

And now for the back of the milk carton edition of BCC Weblog...

Adam Fletcher is looking for our help in tracking down a piece from a rare chess set:
Would it be possible for you to ask the blog readers if they could help a friend of mine find a black bishop for a rare chess board? The board is a hand-made set from England, from a gallery in Hull called Studio Anne Carlton. The set is themed around revelation and only a short run of them have been made. The gallery is out of business as far as he knows....
The missing piece is the black bishop... It's a beautiful set and it's a shame it is not complete.
Here is a gallery of pictures of the set. Can anyone help out?

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Yet another way to lose a piece

Organizing a game of human chess can be a challenging endeavor. For example, who gets to be which piece?
Certain [pieces] are more popular than others, said [New Hampshire librarian and educator Michael] Sullivan, who lectures and conducts workshops throughout the country. "Most of the elementary-aged boys end up wanting to be knights," he said. "Because dressing up as a knight is very fun."

Most young girls, said Sullivan, want to be the queen. This sometimes poses a problem, because Sullivan likes to assign pieces based on height.
Problems can also arise during the play of the game.
"When the pawns are wandering off to see their daddies, and the rooks are sitting down, it can be very difficult to visualize the game," said Sullivan.
Read "Check this out: Chess play gets physical" from the Portland (ME) Press Herald.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Local chess celebrities

The West Weekly section of yesterday's Sunday Boston Globe included a story on the chess exploits of the Frenklakh family (Valery, his son Dmitry, and nephew Roman Gankin). The Frenklakhs play in Boylston Chess Club events from time to time.

I was happy to learn that teaching chess is substantially more lucrative than flipping burgers:
It was Dmitry who suggested his younger cousin, Roman Gankin, start teaching chess after school. Gankin had been manning the fryer at Wild Willy's Burgers in Watertown, and was ready for a change. "I just felt that it wasn't for me," Gankin said. "I needed something more intellectual."

Now Gankin earns in three to four hours of teaching chess what he made spending 18 hours at Wild Willy's.
The article also mentions BCF member Matt Klegon, one of Valery's students, who recently won the Massachusetts High School Championship. Congratulations Matt!

Read "Chess mates - Family shares love, talent for game."

Saturday, April 21, 2007

It's always closer than you think

I've been away for awhile and just got a chance to read this e-mail from Brian Salomon:
Members of the chess community may wish to know that Derek O'Dell, friend and active President of the Chess Club of Virginia Tech, is recovering after the shootings Monday.

Derek notified the chess club:

hey everyone, i'm doing ok. I was shot once in the arm. I was in Norris 207 in a german class when the incident occurred. Thank you all very much for your prayers, wishes, messages, and thoughts. I love you all very much and I'm very fortunate to be here still with all of you.

My apologies if this has already been covered elsewhere in the blogosphere, as it will take me some time to get through the 800 or so posts waiting for me in Bloglines.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Peace Offering

From "At Pleasant Valley, chess is a school sport" at The Herald-Mail:
It's a competitive game of strategy, but team adviser Mike DiLeo stresses good sportsmanship, as with most sporting events....

That sentiment is echoed on the T-shirts chess club team members wear. "Play to learn" is on the front, with "Play to win . . . accept a draw . . . show good sportsmanship!" on the back.
Accept a draw? Under what circumstances? What if your opponent offers a draw in a position where you are clearly winning? I'm all for good sportsmanship, but I'm not sure accepting draw offers ought to fall within the definition.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

MonRoi and Copyright

Paul MacIntyre forwarded an e-mail thread to me which included the following post from USCF Executive Board candidate Joe Lux:
Posted: Mon Apr 09, 2007 11:27 am
Post subject: Monroi and the US Championship

While "campaigning" in New England this weekend, some interesting developments have occured with serious ramifications for the chess community as a whole.

Stephen Dann has written a chess column for the Worcester Telegram and Gazette for over 30 years. Two weeks ago, he submitted a column that included a game score: Curdo-Rizzitano. The newspaper refused to include the gamescore. It was included on the Monroi website. It seems if you register to use the site, you have agreed to recognize Monroi's copyright on game scores.

A week ago, Harold Dondis had the same problem at the Boston Globe, where he has written a column for 50 years.

Both papers are own[ed] by the NY Times. I called Dylan McClain this morning. He has discussed th[e] matter already with NYT corporate lawyers, and is trying to reach Bill Hall.

I called Glenn Petersen, who probably has the most practical experience on publishing games and copyright laws in the chess community. He says there had been court cases where unannotated games are free from copyright laws, but that now with the internet, new rulings might be required.

Monroi will be recording all the games from the US Championship. Will they now hold hostage the distribution of these games around the world?

This is the type of issue that USCF must address. How does this effect Chess Life, and every other publication of chess? Is this what we can expect from endorsing the Monroi machine? I hope we don't need to find a chess attorney who can do pro bono work to stop Monroi, but we have to be prepared for that possibility. Maybe Monroi can be encouraged to change its policy before it goes that far.

Does anyone know about other chess journalists that have been effected by Monroi?

Chessically yours, Joe Lux
It seems to me that MonRoi is playing with fire. If they insist on their right to copyright unannotated game scores in contradiction to the long held precedent of free use, will organizers have any other option than to bar the use of MonRoi in their tournaments? Then again, if MonRoi cuts a deal with organizers which benefits them both at the expense of players and chess journalists, what then?

In light of this last question, Harold Dondis' contribution to the thread might be of some concern:
I have been in communication with Chris Bird who handles Monroi in this area. He has provided me with games from the Eastern Class and given me permission to publish games. I give Continental credit for the game score. I am sure Bill Goichberg will accord this privilege to others. HBD
While it is certainly "kind" of the CCA to give their permission, the real question is: why should we need to ask at all?

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

The new and improved CJA Awards?

Long time readers will recall that we've previously addressed the annual Chess Journalists of America (CJA) Awards with both seriousness and fun. As the 2007 Awards season gets underway, our friend Howard Goldowsky reports on his efforts to reform the organization from within (he sits on the CJA Awards committee) and on this year's changes to the awards program:
This year's CJA Awards Call for Entries should now be published in the April Chess Life. My guess is that people have begun to receive the April Chess Life, because I have begun to receive entries for the Mainstream category (I am the contact address for this category), Category 24. Here are some notes about this year's awards...

Over the last decade or so, the CJA awards have received much notoriety in the chess media. People (including myself) have complained about the high rate of self-nominations and the general absence of quality entries; in general, the CJA awards have not been taken seriously for some time. Probably the most ruthless attack on the awards came a number of years ago when Edward Winter publicly denounced the CJA as "a dazzlingly undemanding body with a track-record of dispensing hundreds of awards, often to self nominees [sic] with no realistic hope of winning an accolade from elsewhere. The winners read like a Who’s Who of who deserve nothing."

During the past three-plus years, I've been lobbying the CJA to reform its awards system. This year will employ the first major attempt to bolster the awards' prestige. There are two major changes. The first is that the CJA has reduced the number of categories from 39 to 24. This creates more competition per category. Done away with are categories that have historically received little or no entries and redundant categories. The second major change is the addition of Category 24, the Mainstream Media category. This category is open to free nominations by CJA members, and the CJA will accept nominations from any mainstream article (see the official rules for more details).
Here are the official rules and new categories for 2007.

Now my interest, of course, is in the chess blogosphere and I'm sorry to see that none of the changes reflect the new realities of chess journalism which have been established through the growth of our medium. Certainly, Howard has his own agenda for change which he has been pursuing for many years (finally, with at least some small measure of success); nevertheless, I might have hoped that his familiarity and experience with chess blogs could have bled over into the CJA reform process. Not this year obviously, though I'm sure Howard will tell us that this is likely to be a multi-year process and there will be more opportunities for change and improvement in the future.

So where does this leave chess bloggers in 2007? While it is a plausible option for bloggers to submit their sites to the Best General Website Category, I'd be surprised if a blog would ever win. While blogs, I suppose, are technically websites, a chess blog is as different from a traditional chess website as that website is from an offline chess publication. Quite simply, it's not an apples to apples comparison and I don't see the judges abandoning the traditional criteria for what makes a good chess website in order to give the award to a blog.

The alternative is to submit a single post or series of posts to one of the media independent categories. From my reading of the rules these might include: Best Tournament Report, Any Media; Best Human Interest Story; Best Historical Article; Best Interview; Best Editorial; Best Review; Best Analysis; Best Instruction; and Best Humorous Contribution. I can certainly think of blog posts I've read this year that fit into each of these categories; however, I wonder whether the judges will consider a post to be equivalent to an article or a story. Also, I'm not sure if they will consider a series of related posts (e.g., The Chess Mind's series on "Something Different vs. the French") as a single journalistic piece.

For my part, I'm considering testing these concerns by submitting the complete BCC Weblog coverage of the Boston Blitz's 2006 US Chess League season to the Best Tournament Report category. How do you suppose it might fair against current CJA President Jerry Hanken's most recent edition of his endless annual reports on US and National Opens? For amusement, I could submit my post on the Pete Tamburro chess journalism awards to the Best Humorous Contribution category. Do you suppose the judges will find it funny?

The CJA Best Chess Blog Award ... we're just going to have to wait.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Paramounties make the turn

Here is an update on the standings of the Paramount A-section:

3.5/4 Ed Astrachan (1859)
4.0/5 Ruben Portugues (1819)
3.0/5 Evan Sonkin (1864)
2.5/5 Jon Lee (1801)
1.0/4 Ken Ho (1726)
0.0/5 Bill MacLellan (1600) - withdrawn

5 rounds down; 5 to go.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Blog Terrorists Strike Again

IM Ben Feingold's blog and Rob's Chess Blog have both been hijacked.

Be careful out there.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Thursday, April 05, 2007

DG wins with eighteen to spare!

Read Mark's gracious concession post. The 1972 Fischer - Spassky World Championship match souvenir will make a fine addition to the Boylston Chess Foundation archives.

Related Post: Collecting on a bet

With coaches like these...

Kansas sixth grader Hannah Dalke has learned some key tactics from her coaches on how to win more games and move up the scholastic rankings.
One of Dalke's chess tactics that she uses when she is far back in her division is to try and do a four-move-checkmate. If this is not blocked, she is able to move up faster in her division. Also, if a timer is not present at her table, Dalke will take an excessive amount of time to think of her movement.

This disturbs her opponent causing them to resign, allowing her to sometimes win a match.
Hannah also points out the importance of diet to competitive chess players.
"It helps when Isabelle Moyer and I eat bananas before we play chess. Every time we eat them, we win," said Dalke. "It's our secret. Our coaches even bring bananas now for us to eat."
From "McPherson student uses game of chess to expand horizons" at the McPherson Sentinel.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wamala trial delayed

From "District may vet workers more fully" at The Boston Globe (bold italics are mine):
Job candidates and volunteers in the Lowell school system may soon have to undergo a national criminal background check before they are hired.

The policy change is being considered by school and law-enforcement officials as a way to address concerns about the system already in place....

Concerns about background checks were prompted by the arrest last September of Severine E. Wamala, a math teacher at the high school. Wamala, 45, a Uganda native, was arrested on charges of sexually molesting three young women, ranging in ages from 15 to 23, in New Hampshire.

At his arraignment in Nashua, Wamala pleaded not guilty to 24 charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault and 11 charges of incest. The alleged assaults did not involve students from Lowell High School, where Wamala also organized the chess club. He is being held on $1 million bail in Manchester.

His trial had been scheduled to convene this month, but has been delayed, according to Patricia LaFrance, assistant county attorney for the Hillsborough County Attorney's office. At the time of his arrest, Wamala was living in Nashua. He moved there after living in Lowell.

Martin said Wamala had undergone a CORI background check for the Lowell job, but it did not reveal the fact that he had been arrested previously in New Hampshire on other charges. Martin did not have details of those charges.

The information had not been relayed to Lowell officials at the time of Wamala's hire, said Martin, who explained that the district learned of his record only after his arrest in connection with the assaults.

Wamala was hired as a substitute math teacher in 2003 and promoted to a full-time teacher in 2004. A year later, he was promoted to mathematics department chairman.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Collecting on a bet

In my post "How many chess blogs are there anyway?" I laid out the following proposition:
..."In the next two hours, I bet I can find 5 chess blogs you've never seen before." Any takers?
While most of the chess blog reading community didn't seem interested in taking me up on it, About Chess' Mark Weeks decided to play:
You're on. I'll trust you to use only two hours, and you'll trust me when I say whether I've seen them or not. My database has 275 entries, of which 127 were active in the last six months. Please give me a heads-up when you're ready. - Mark
Now, I had originally proposed this as a bar bet, so I wasn't really anticipating going up against one of the few other individuals in the entire world who actively maintains a list of chess blogs. Therefore, this needs to be viewed as probably the sternest possible test of my proposition. I nevertheless gladly accept the challenge in the spirit of "if it's not hard, it's not worth doing."

As Mark points out, trust is key to this exercise. On my side, I will actually complete the exercise live on BCC Weblog. I will list new chess blog finds at the bottom of this post and include the elapsed time starting at 0 and going to 120 minutes. If you are so inclined, you can keep checking back in real time to make sure I don't add anything after the two hours have elapsed. For Mark's part, he publishes his chess blog database on the web for all to see. While it may not be perfectly up to date and while he may have come across other chess blogs which he didn't list for one reason or another, he will need a compelling explanation if he claims to have seen all the blogs I find yet not have them in his list. All that being said, I have every reason to believe that this exercise will be pursued on the up-and-up by both sides. I'm sure Mark agrees.

Mark added one more stipulation to the challenge:
P.S. I'll accept no more than one blog not written in English!
Now I'm not sure why we ought to be discriminating against non-English chess bloggers, but since I don't have any other takers I'll gladly accept his conditions. Should I come across more than one non-English blog I will list them below, but recognize that only one can count towards the quota of five.

What are the stakes? That's not been discussed, though after I win I'm sure Mark will come up with an appropriate prize. Am I feeling a bit cocky? I'm absolutely brimming with confidence that I will prevail. In fact, I'd be surprised if I even need to use the second hour (I sure hope I don't end up eating these words!).

Keep checking back; I'll be starting soon...

Starting now!

I wanna get better at chess! (3)

Hypermodernity Chess Blog (7)

Snodland Chess Club (9)

Chess Opening for Blitz!!! (11)

Diary of an Itinerant Chess Player (13)

That's five in thirteen minutes, but I'm going to keep on going in case Mark has seen any of these before.

Mida's chess corner (16)

Chess In Canada's Capital (17)

Abend's Chess Blog (18)

World Chess Championship Blog (19) - Actually Mark will know of this one since it is his. Apparently he started it last month.

Chess Apocalypse Now (23)

Dan's Correspondence Chess Blog (24)

CHESS COACH , ajedrez a la orden (26) - Spanish

Bangladesh Chess (27)

Eastern New York Chess Association (28)

Jerry Chess (29)

VICKI chess engine (33)

Zeb Fortman II Chess Blog (34)

Fischer Random Chess Email Club (36)

The Chess-ucation of Raths (38)

Chess Monographs (39)

FCPL Chess News (41)

Chess Tiger Chess Rimau - World Chess Entertainment (44)

Chess by Andy (46)

Texas Chess Association (47)

MagicMadness' Chess Blog (55)

Chessalicious (58)

OK, that's an hour. I'm calling it now with 60 minutes to spare. Mark, do I have at least five you haven't seen before? Let me know what I've won :)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Talking Patzer Talk

To be honest, it is sometimes difficult to find chess at Chess Patzer Theories. However, that doesn't mean there isn't any interesting information there -- especially if you like moblogging technology and/or Malaysian street food. A few of Andrew's recent posts caught my eye.

First, he came clean about doing paid sponsored posts for PayPerPost. I've been fairly hesitant about over commercializing this blog, something that certainly can't be said for Chess Patzer Theories. For example, I waited over a year before putting Google ads up here and have tried to make them relatively unobtrusive (which is good for the readers, though not so good for earnings). Nevertheless, every dollar helps our struggling foundation and if PayPerPost is really as easy and (relatively) lucrative as Andrew suggests then it might be worth a look.

Next, he mentions Alexa website popularity ratings and includes rankings for several chess sites and blogs. I can see another installment of my "Measuring the Chess Blogosphere" series on the horizon.

Finally, there is this cryptic post which suggests that his blog is in its final days. At first I thought it might be an April Fool's Day joke, but the post is dated April 2nd. Who knows if they even have the April Fool's tradition in Malaysia? In any case, Andrew promises "Reason and explanation tomorrow." Whatever happens, I certainly hope he doesn't plan on shutting down ChessPublisher.

Stand up again, please

It turns out that BCF member Kevin Croxen has a literary chess accomplishment which far exceeds getting a question posted on Susan Polgar's blog. His article, "The Russian Myth of Lasker's Last Tournament," was recently published in the Quarterly for Chess History Vol. 12.

Congratulations, Kevin.