Thursday, May 31, 2007

MonRoi ignites (and unites) the blogosphere

If all the crack marketing people at MonRoi were looking for was increased name recognition among chess blog readers, then they have surely succeeded. Of course, if they also wanted their potential customers to associate positive thoughts and feelings with their brand then they might need to rethink their approach.

The more I think about their recent spat with Mig (and perhaps the earlier controversy about game score copyright), the more it seems to me that that they are acting very much like monopolists. While we chess players don't yet have a competing electronic scoresheet product to move to, we do have a handy, inexpensive substitute in paper and pencil. Best not to provoke your customers, eh?

Here's a round-up of recent blogosphere posts on L'affaire MonRoi:

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

MonRoi threatens suit against Mig and the Daily Dirt

Obviously, this is another case of the rhetoric being so high because the stakes are so low. Read all about it here.

The beginning of the end?

Here is former BCC President Bryan Clark's most recent report on his poker career. It makes me wonder if his experiment is heading into the late innings.

Six Years in Las Vegas

My sixth year in Las Vegas got considerably worse before it finally got better.

Just about 35 hours after posting Five Years in Las Vegas, I woke up on a Friday afternoon motivated to put in a long weekend at the poker tables. I had planned for June-August to be non-stop poker. I was determined to grind out whatever hours were necessary to reboot my bankroll and put myself in a healthy and stable financial situation.

But, after showering and making something to eat, I noticed I had a message from back home in Massachusetts. My father was in intensive care. I called home and talked to my mother to find out how serious the situation was. After a short talk, I was online buying airline tickets to be with my mother.

My Dad was a strong guy. During the Vietnam War, he was on a reconnaissance mission (he believes in Cambodia when we weren’t officially there). The unmarked helicopter delivering him came under fire and he jumped out, landed badly, and permanently messed up his knee. He survived injured in the jungle, in enemy territory, for a week before his scheduled pickup. Five years ago, he had a relatively mild heart attack and walked into the emergency room for treatment. But, that same strength also made him stubborn. He had gotten sick a week earlier but had continued working (armed security) and didn’t treat whatever he had too seriously. But, he was older and didn’t recover so well. By the time he eventually went to the hospital Thursday night (again walking into the emergency room), he was in very bad shape. Within hours, he was admitted to intensive care and barely conscious.

I first saw him in the hospital on Sunday morning. I thought he looked fairly good for somebody in intensive care. A nurse thought it was a good idea to essentially yell at him to wake him up and tell him I was there. I would have preferred she just let him rest and recover. But, he woke up and looked over at me and my mother. When the doctor came in, he said my father’s chances were 50/50. He was having lots of problems, including sepsis. I was optimistic. Before walking into his room, I had prepared myself for the worst. But, he didn’t look bad to me.

When I visited again on Monday morning, he looked terrible. I instantly thought “he’s not going to make it”. And, he didn’t. I never saw him conscious again. We were never able to talk again. Instead, I visited every day for the next couple weeks and watched him deteriorate. He had so many problems that one medication which was designed to raise his blood pressure would end up causing him to bleed internally. I’m stuck with an image in my head of walking into his room one day to see him bleeding out of his mouth (apparently just starting within the past minute) and having to immediately ask a nurse to come in and check on him.

For a couple weeks, doctors tried everything they could to save him. About halfway through this, my parents had their 40th wedding anniversary. My Mom and I went out for a dinner. But, eventually, there was no reason for the doctors or my mother to have any reasonable hope. He took a big turn for the worse on Father’s Day weekend and my mother decided to end what we both knew my father wouldn’t want to continue. He was taken off his respirator on the Monday after Father’s Day (my mother very specifically refused to do it on Father’s Day after she made her decision on Saturday). My mother had planned to be by his side when he died. She was speaking to his doctor in the hallway as the nurse made certain preparations. The doctor had said he wouldn’t last very long without his respirator but even he didn’t realize how bad my father apparently was. Within five seconds of being disconnected by the nurse, my father died. The nurse immediately went to the doctor and my mother to inform them.

Until that point, I had been lucky in not having to deal with loss. My grandparents had died. But, two died when I was so young that I can’t remember them. Losing the other two hurt. But, even as a child, it was not hard to understand older people dying. Nobody else very close to me had ever died.

I spent most of June in Massachusetts with my mother and other family. Obviously, it came with some expense. Also, my bills back in Las Vegas still needed to be paid. And, I wasn’t playing any poker since I didn’t have any money online or any good computer access. Foxwoods wasn’t an option because of the travel time required. A lot of money got spent and no money came in.

In the first 22 days of July, I played nearly 100 hours, regularly loss, and often loss big. One of the last hands I played resonates for me. An EP raised pre-flop and got called in several places including a tight-aggressive button player. I called in the big blind with 55. The flop came T,9,5. I checked to the EP who bet. After a few folds, the TAG button raised. I made the perfect read. The TAG had flopped a bigger set. Of course, I sent him all my chips anyway (checking and calling the whole way vs. his 99).

Even before that night, I was past the point of playing on a short bankroll. I was now playing with rent payments. When I got home, I added up all the money I had in various places. I calculated that if I didn’t play at all, I could pay my expenses up until, and including, my rent in October. Then, I would be broke. If I kept playing, that date could be earlier or later.

I had already taken certain steps to get a job such as contacting and interviewing with a headhunter. But, nothing had yet developed there. I can’t say I wanted anything to develop. But, I may have needed it to.

However, in July of 2006, problems at Two Plus Two Publishing created an opportunity I hadn’t expected. Ed Miller decided to end his association with 2+2 (except his book project with Matt Flynn and Sunny Mehta which was already started and should be published in July of this year). One of the duties he resigned from was his editorship of the Two Plus Two Internet Magazine. I contacted Mason Malmuth and expressed my interest in the job. I had to wait a few days before getting a definitive response. Apparently, Mason had already offered the job to David Fromm (who was also working on a 2+2 book with Ray Zee). However, David turned it down to focus on his book.

Mason contacted me to arrange a lunch with him and Mat Sklansky. I reviewed the three most recent issues of the Magazine and came well prepared to discuss what I thought of the issues and ideas I had for the future. But, the lunch was different than I had expected. I wasn’t actually being interviewed for the position. Mason started the conversation saying something like “I wanted to meet with you so we could talk in person about what you’re responsibilities will be.” I quickly realized I already had the job. It was quite a relief. I also got a good laugh when Mat said something like “I don’t even know why Mason wanted me here. I don’t deal with the Magazine at all”. It was a good sign of the type of security and autonomy I’d have in my new position.

The Magazine didn’t initially pay very well and I wasn’t getting my first full check until mid-September. With my finances otherwise running out just a couple weeks after that, I decided to take an overly-cautious approach for the next few months. I focused my attention on improving the quality of the Magazine with the intention of offering Mason a proposal to expand my duties with 2+2 for an increase in pay. In the meantime, I stopped playing with my insufficient bankroll to ensure not going bankrupt.

After publishing the September and October issues of the Magazine and getting very positive responses from the readers for taking a new approach and bringing in a new group of regular writers, I made a proposal to Mason. I offered to expand my role on the website, make a one-year commitment to the positions, and asked for an increase in pay which would be enough to cover my basic monthly expenses. Mason responded saying “While not everything you requested, I think you'll be happy with (our response).” He turned down my offer of expanded duties and firm commitment. However, he gave me the full raise I asked for. Oh, well. You can’t have everything.

Editing the Magazine is an ideal job. For a part-time position, it pays reasonably well. As long as I meet my monthly deadline, I can work anytime I want from the comfort of my own home. And, of course, that allows me to play at my leisure.

So, by the New Year, I was back in the game rebuilding a crippled bankroll while also working part time as a poker magazine editor. Since then, everything has been good. Through most of 2006, I was playing what could be called stressed-poker. I needed to win in order to pay the bills. Now, I’m playing stress-free poker. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve had that kind of comfort at the table.

I can’t say I’m properly bankrolled for the uncapped Vegas 2-5 no-limit games. My ideal buy-in for that game would be $1,000. For the past couple months, I’ve been forced to look for the better games and buy-in somewhat short. But, the bankroll is consistently growing again.

I’ve noticed an unfortunate trend in the Three, Four, and Five Years posts. They end with me being very optimistic about the short term and long term future. But, the best actual year-end results was a maintaining of the status quo. Yet, I remain optimistic anyway. Year Seven is going to be good.

originally posted 5/15/07 on 2+2 Forums by Bryan Clark

Related Posts: Bryan's Song - The Bryan Clark Poker Dynasty - Time for a repetoire change

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Gus Gosselin

Gus Gosselin (1926-2007)

As I'm sure many of you have heard by now, local chess luminary Gus Gosselin passed away on May 21st at 80 years old. The following announcement was posted at the Massachusetts Chess Association (MACA) website:
The MACA board of directors reports with great sadness the passing of Gilbert F. "Gus" Gosselin, who died Monday evening, May 21, at the age of 80. Gus was one of the greatest contributors to the promotion of chess, both adult and scholastic, in Massachusetts as well as in New England. At the time of his death, he was MACA's scholastic coordinator and Living Memorial Fund coordinator. In his past 35 years' involvement with MACA, Gus served in every major executive position in the organization. For the past several decades, especially during the 1970s, 1980s and early 1990's, he kept chess alive in Rhode Island. A tribute to Gus will be published in the July-September issue of Chess Horizons, which will be mailed out in June. Funeral arrangements are unavailable at this time, but letters and/or cards of condolences can be sent to his wife Ruth and daughter Marcia and family at 19 Glen St. #2, Malden, MA 02148 and to his son Matthew at 177B Pleasant St., Melrose, MA 02176.

George Mirijanian
President, MACA
MACA has set up a discussion thread where individuals can post their remembrances of Gus. From that thread, I'd like to share the thoughts of BCF Treasurer Bob Oresick:
In the New England chess world, if you mentioned "Gus," everyone knew who you meant. When I first started playing chess in tournaments in the early '90s, I slowly entered the Boston chess scene. And I kept hearing about Gus. Gus in MACA service. Gus and the Living Memorial. Gus and Pawneaters. In Malden. In Providence. Gus and Burger King. Gus at the Boylston club.

I was too intimidated to play at the Boylston, so many of my first tournaments were at Gus's Pawneaters. So, I thought chess tournaments were mixes of adult patzers, kids, hovering parents, and the aroma of stale beer and old, folding chairs and rickety tables we players and parents had to set up. I remember Gus watching as Gus's young helper Kent Leung marched his pawns forward suicidally and then the attacking and attacking... Gus's penumbra was always semi-chaotic, in a gentle slow way - like a manic sloth. So often the starting time was ten and Gus was carrying in stuff from the car - laptop, sets, clocks, and all the other impedimenta he brought, not unlike setting up a Roman camp.

But, Gus was so gentle and unassuming that I was made to feel comfortable and could enjoy playing chess. I think that was a common experience for many children too.

My experience with him was as an older man, getting worn down with sickness. He never complained about his illness, never seemed to make much of a hospitalization. He was always so active. I remember a year or so ago at a Rhode Island pawneater in which he was just playing, not directing, we were chatting. Somehow in the conversation Gus mentioned that he had been a running back for a local semi-pro football team. I must say I couldn't imagine that. But that just shows my poverty of imagination, and the complexity of a very modest, complex man who helped form the face of Massachusetts chess for our era.

Robert Oresick
Bob has also posted a number of pictures of Gus here.

Finally, Tiffany Wang reports on plans for a gathering in memory of Gus on Saturday, June 2nd from 4:00pm to 8:00pm at 19 Glen St. in Malden, Massachusetts.

Is this a good thing?

[Linda] Williams' son [Franklin] plays [chess] every day, whether online, against someone or alone.

"If you ask him, 'Do you want to goof-off and have a friend over to spend the night and play video games, or do you want to get up at 6 a.m. on Saturday to drive to Nashville to play a couple of game of chess?', he'll pick the chess," she said.
From "All the right moves: Interest in chess on the rise" at The (Murfreesboro, TN) Daily News Journal.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

A Fortuitous Choice

I've previously noted that location can be an important factor when trying to maximize one's chances of winning a State Championship title. Now, we have a closer to home example of this phenomenon.

As a Massachusetts scholastic player, Jason Spector could often be found at the Boylston Chess Club. But even after he achieved an expert rating, he was never a serious threat to win the Mass. State Championship. Lucky for him, after graduating high school he went off to Bowdoin College, and subsequently won the 50th Maine State Championship.

The scholastic version of Jason Spector at the 2000 BU Open
(he'd be the smallest player in the picture)

The Preface to Goldowsky's Engaging Pieces

During the last six years, I’ve contributed interviews, fiction, and opinions to a variety of state, national, and online chess magazines. This book, a complete collection of my chess writing, is the culmination of that work. Its title, Engaging Pieces, describes both the art writers strive to create and the medium with which chess players strive to create art.

I compiled this book for the same reason I began writing about chess in the first place: I wanted to share my curiosity about the cultural, social, and competitive nature of the game. Thus, the topics running through these pages include complex, contemporary issues that I wanted to make accessible to the public. Some of these topics include the details of chess rating systems, the interaction of artificial intelligence with chess computers, the relationship between feminism and women’s chess, the marketing and promotion of chess, and the question of whether or not chess is a sport. Simply put, I’m a chess fan. Each article and story represents the type of in-depth and entertaining chess writing that I, and other chess fans, deserve to read.

After reading this book, it will become evident that chess players and those surrounding the game are dynamic and passionate people. For example, my first interview, a profile of Michael de la Maza, was written because I was curious about his obsession with chess tactics, and I was fascinated by his rapid rating ascension; Maurice Ashley’s vision of chess promotion prompted my essay about the HB Global Chess Challenge; the humble yet impudent personality of a young Hikaru Nakamura inspired a conversation with him right before he won the U.S. Championship in 2005; and a brash, chess-playing homeless man panhandling in Harvard Square became the archetype for a character in the short story "When the Balance be in Your Favor."

It is rare to see both fiction and non-fiction published in one volume. Yet having all of my chess writing collected in one place ties my work into a convenient package, and helps bring closure to one stage of my writing career. In the future, I’d like to spend more time improving my chess ability and pursuing other literary interests.

Lastly, many of the pieces here contain a postscript. These are brief, one hundred to seven hundred word updates about related events that have transpired since an article was originally published. These postscripts add a current perspective to each article, and, if necessary, they will help bring the reader up to date.

I hope these articles and stories prove to be as enjoyable to read as they were to write.

Engaging Pieces is currently available for pre-order at

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Hip-Hop Chess

Variations on a Theme

  • Lamarr Wilson and the Chess4Chicago blog are going away.

  • J'adoube has gained some new insight about the game from being away.

  • Chessdad64 is searching for a new way.
...thoughts of thanks, good luck, support and friendship to each as appropriate.

The added benefits of chess training

From "Trial lawyer sees parallels in chess and litigation" at the Rocky Mountain (CO) News:
In 2001, I started teaching Robert Abrams chess. At that time, he was the successful founder of both Denver Stone and Tile and Muscle Builders, a land-development company.

Professionally, Abrams had a lifetime dream of becoming a trial lawyer.

He eagerly talks about "the chess thinking process" as a key element in completing the University of Denver's four-year night program in 2 1/2 years and immediately passing the Bar Exam. Today he is a trial lawyer at Cristiano Law, specializing in commercial litigation.

Abrams attributes passing the bar exam on his first attempt to his chess training. He says, "Todd's training in logical thinking, while under time pressure, is the reason I passed the bar. Just like in chess, there is only a limited amount of time to complete this complicated test. One must determine the candidate moves, not analyze all the possibilities, and always, always see the big picture. You cannot answer every question correctly, so why try? Pick your battles and prevail!"
Perhaps the ICC should offer a Bar Exam preparation course built around sessions of blitz!?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What Chess Sets Do While You're Sleeping

Hat Tip: Bryan Clark

The final frontier

I suspect that the vast majority of chess clubs, primarily for financial reasons, do not own or control their own space. They arrange to use senior centers, schools, libraries, community centers, local pubs, etc. often during off-hours for these locations. There are exceptions, of course. For instance, the Marshall Chess Club in New York holds title to its Greenwich Village brownstone and I think I read somewhere that the Mechanics Institute Club in San Francisco has some kind of sweetheart deal on its space.

For our part, the BCF rents the space which houses the Boylston Chess Club. The good news is that we have control over the use of the space 24/7, but of course the challenge is that we must generate sufficient revenue through dues, tournament income, and donations to cover this substantial expense.

It turns out, however, that those who borrow their space face challenges of their own.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Time for a repetoire change

We'll be checking in twice in coming posts on former Boylston Chess Club President Bryan Clark's career as a poker professional. This time it's "Five Years in Las Vegas" which he posted at the 2+2 forums in June of '06. Next time, we'll take a look at his recently posted "Six Years in Las Vegas."
Five Years in Las Vegas

For some time, I have dreaded writing this post. One year ago, I wrote my four year update and ended it by saying I expected my fifth year to be my most productive yet. Instead, factors both poker related and non-poker related put my career in a crisis mode which I can’t say I’ve completely gotten out of yet.

Entering the summer of 2005, I was in a comfortable bankroll situation. I had been playing exclusively online and having steady success as an 8-table full ring game limit player (3-6 and 5-10 with the occasional 15-30). Today, I’m on a shorter bankroll, once again playing live, and have switched to no-limit. I’m obviously not happy about having a shorter bankroll. But, I am happy with my move back to live play and find that playing no-limit has invigorated me.

I don’t like to give out too much personal information which is not directly related to poker. But, during the summer, I was hit with multiple unexpected and large expenses which took a surprisingly large chunk out of my bankroll. I have always been remarkably conservative concerning my bankroll. I always have much more than I actually need to play the limits I’m at. So, the outside expenses were something I could absorb. But, I suddenly found myself with a much smaller cushion than I had previously.

Then, at exactly the wrong time, I had my very first-ever losing month (when playing significant hours) in July. It wasn’t a big loss– just over $500. But, the loss combined with the big expenses I had been hit with and my normal monthly expenses suddenly had me shaking my head at how my financial situation had so suddenly changed. I found myself thinking about rebuilding my bankroll rather than using it to move up as I had been planning.

August was actually my best month of the year and I felt everything was back to normal. But, it wasn’t. In September, I barely turned a profit for the month and didn’t cover my expenses. October was a complete disaster. I had a four digit loss for the month at the tables. (I’m too embarrassed to post the exact amount)

I was in complete shock. In less than half a year, I had gone from being perfectly content with my situation to realizing I was in a crisis.

In that dreadful October, I lost 70% of my sessions and usually lost quite a bit. As it was happening, I was reviewing my play. I was looking back at my hands and seeing where I lost my money. Though I don’t want to sound like I’m making excuses, I’m convinced I hit the outer edge of variance for a while. It seemed I was constantly in bad situations or receiving bad beats.

I was satisfied with my play. But, it didn’t matter anymore. The losses at the poker tables and from my outside life had simply crippled my bankroll. I found myself in a position where the only responsible thing to do was to consider getting the dreaded….J…O…B. After paying my rent in November, I began a job search including contacting Clarkmeister who just happened to be hiring an assistant (he, of course, knew better than to hire a poker degenerate). I wrote up a resume, sent it out to some people, and began seriously considering what my future plans were going to be. Was I going to re-enter the workforce and make poker a hobby? Was I going to use a job to provide a quick, safe boost to my bankroll and go back to the poker career afterwards? Or, was I going to find a way to make the poker career work? For now, I intended to keep playing at stakes which allowed me to hold the line while I weighed my options.

The month of November proved to be a key turning point when a couple of unrelated events led me down a different poker road. On 11/5, I went to the MGM Grand to participate in a 2+2 “MagooFest”. About 60 2+2ers showed up to play games like Crazy Fox, Triple Flop Hold ‘em, and other more bizarre games. As had been the case lately, I managed to drop a couple hundred dollars in a 2-4 game. That was par for the course. But, I enjoyed myself a lot. I went back to the MGM Grand six days later to play some no-limit (just 1-2) and had my best day in more than a month. It was the first time I played live since a vacation at Foxwoods in March.

The very next day, 11/12, I went to Ed Miller’s wedding reception. There were some people there most 2+2ers are familiar with including Alan Schoonmaker. At some point, we started discussing our play and I must have mentioned playing at the MGM Grand the day before. Alan made what in retrospect I probably knew but hadn’t given proper consideration. He said “All the new, bad players are playing no-limit”.

Alan’s statement was, of course, plainly obvious to anybody who thought about it. No-limit was taking over the Las Vegas card rooms because a significant majority of new players wanted to play what they were watching on TV. In November of 2002, you couldn’t find a single no-limit game on the Strip except at very high stakes. In November of 2003, the situation was just starting to change but limit poker still dominated every card room. By November of 2004, no-limit games were everywhere and by the time of my conversation with Alan, they had probably surpassed limit games.

I don’t expect this to be news to anybody. But, I realized as this part of the poker world was changing, I wasn’t. This applied to the online games as well. Those of you who play online know that the full ring games simply aren’t the same as they were two years ago. Not only have players been lost to no-limit but they’ve been lost to the six-max limit games as well. The games I was playing both live and online were getting worse and could only expect to continue getting worse.

It was time for me to change. Unfortunately, my bankroll situation didn’t give me lots of options. Playing multi-table short-handed was something I had done occasionally but I didn’t like it much. It was also a fairly high variance game and I didn’t need that. No-limit, however, was a lower variance game and had always interested me. So, like switching from 7-card stud to hold ‘em a few years ago, I decided to switch from limit to no-limit even if I was doing it a bit belatedly.

While my pseudo-job search was on, I simply put in hours at the 1-2 live no-limit games (eventually at Caesars Palace where they have a $500 buy-in) to make sure the monthly bills got paid and to get myself comfortable with no-limit. I was actually surprised how well things worked for me so quickly. It was a bit humbling playing 1-2 no-limit but pride was something I was going to have to sacrifice for a while.

I haven’t played online at all in 2006 with the exception of the 2+2 WSOP freeroll tournament (which I finished 3rd out of 72 players). All I’ve played is live no-limit. I’ve been playing 2-5 when the games are very good, especially on the weekends. When they’re not, I’m simply putting in 1-2 hours.

As of today, I’ve recovered a good portion of my bankroll losses and plan to put in some serious hours over the summer with the intention of a permanent move to 2-5 and, eventually, 5-10.

The past year can’t be described as good for me. But, it did have one very positive impact. I’ve been putting in more hours at the tables than ever before and I’m enjoying it. Poker is as much fun as it’s ever been.

So, I’m hopeful the big year I had anticipated in the past twelve months will unfold in the next year.

originally posted 6/01/06 on 2+2 Forums by Bryan Clark

Related Posts: Bryan's Song - The Bryan Clark Poker Dynasty

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Astrachan by a nose

Ed Astrachan secured first place in the Paramount A-section by half a point over Evan Sonkin. Here are the final standings:

6.5 Ed Astrachan (1859)
6.0 Evan Sonkin (1864)
5.0 Ruben Portugues (1819)
4.0 Ken Ho (1726)
3.5 Jon Lee (1801)
0.0 Bill MacLellan (1600) w/d

The larger B-section continues to play each week; when they will end, nobody knows.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Blitz face steep climb in '07

The US Chess League has announced its schedule for the 2007 season. With twelve teams in the league this year, schedules are unbalanced both within and across divisions. For the Boston Blitz, who came in first in last year's Eastern Division regular season race, this means that will be facing the mettle of the non-Northeastern Division* -- San Francisco and Seattle. They'll be no matches with the likes of the Tennessee Tiptoes this year. Within their own division, Boston will match-up twice against rival New York, Philadelphia and Queens, but only once against Baltimore and New Jersey.

The Blitz's season gets off to a bang with a first week match-up against the Seattle Sluggers. I'm licking my journalistic chops just thinking about a possible Krasik-Ballard confrontation on Board 4. Two other big moments should be Monday night matches against New York (an opportunity to get revenge for last year's playoff loss) and 2006 Champion San Francisco (where one of Boston's GMs will get a chance to put former teammate Josh Friedel in his place).

Here is Boston's full schedule for the 2007 season (all Eastern time):

Wed. 8/29, 9:00pm - Seattle Sluggers
Wed. 9/05, 7:00pm - Queens Pioneers
Wed. 9/12, 7:00pm - Philadelphia Inventors
Mon. 9/17, 7:00pm - New York Knights
Wed. 9/26, 7:15pm - Baltimore Kingfishers
Mon. 10/01, 8:30pm - San Francisco Mechanics
Wed. 10/10, 7:00pm - New York Knights
Wed. 10/17, 7:00pm - New Jersey Knockouts
Wed. 10/24, 7:30pm - Queens Pioneers
Wed. 10/31, 7:00pm - Philadelphia Inventors

* The league continues to refer to this as the Western Division, but most everyone recognizes that that's just silly.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


In reviewing his Online Chess and Poker playing in April, Brian Colson discovered that...
...playing [chess] against crappy players while doped on pain killers is much more fun than it should be.
Who needs Modafinil?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Candids from the M-Tel Insurance Publicity Event

Blogger Goran Urosevic of Chess Strategy is in Sofia and sent along these photos from the "ceremony" in which players were given their free life insurance policies.

What's in a name? - Redux

Harold got it wrong, but in a rather amusing way...

The topic of last Saturday's Chess Notes column in the Boston Globe was GM Alex Stripunsky. Columnist Harold Dondis wrote that Alex...
"...will lead the New York Queens, one of two new teams in the US Chess League this year."
The New York Queens? Sounds like a transvestite cabaret group playing the Manhattan club scene. Then again, it probably makes more sense than Pioneers.

Related Post: What's in a name?

Monday, May 14, 2007

The Best of Goldowsky

Howard Goldowsky's new book, Engaging Pieces: Interviews and Prose for the Chess Fan, is off to the printers.

The book is a collection of Howard's chess writing from the past six years. It includes interviews with many interesting chess celebrities, chess fiction, and in-depth reviews and editorials. All but two stories and the appendix have been previously published, but most people have probably not read everything. The appendix lists every chess novel or anthology of chess fiction with considerable chess content published from 1933 to the present. Many books from 2007 are included in the bibliography. It is the most complete and up-to-date list of its kind. If one is interested in chess fiction, this is a must-read list.

Knights and other tactics hounds will be interested in Howard's profile of Michael de la Maza which originally appeared in Chess Horizons. The story "Chess as a Sport" also incorporates the thrill of tactics study.

Greater Bostonians may find interest in "When the Balance Be in Your Favor", which follows the going-ons in Harvard Square and "En Passant: An Opportunity Lost" which takes place at MIT.

Here is the complete table of contents:

Michael de la Maza ('400 points in 400 days')
Mig Greengard
Paul Hoffman (chess writer and TV broadcaster)
Hikaru Nakamura
Charles Katz (former VP of Edge TV -- was planning to have chess on cable TV )
Chrilly Dollinger and Muhammad Nasir Ali (Team Hydra)
Jennifer Shahade (author, Chess Bitch)
Greg Shahade (President of the U.S. Chess League)
Joe Block (chess playing Beauty and the Geek star)
David Shenk (author, Immortal Game)
Mark Glickman (USCF Ratings Committee Chair)
Michel Weinreb (author, Kings of NY)

En Passant: An Opportunity Lost
Chess as a Sport
Chess Doesn't Care
Inspiration for a Young Chess Master
A Conversation with Anthony Meters
When the Balance Be in Your Favor

The Chess Journalist Letter
Tournament Entries: A New Perspective
Computer Chess: Looking Back, Looking Forward
Chess and the Art of Negotiation: A Review

A bibliography of contemporary chess fiction

Engaging Pieces is currently available for pre-order at

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hearing Monday on Wamala defense motions

From "Ex-teacher seeks gag order in rape case" at the Nashua Telegraph:
A former Lowell (Mass.) High School math teacher accused of raping three young women has asked the court to gag prosecutors, police and other officials from talking about the case.

Severine Wamala, 46, of 22 Danforth Road, Apt. 22, faces 34 felony sexual-assault charges, each punishable by up to 10 to 20 years in prison. He has been jailed since his arrest in September, unable to post $1 million bail.

Police charge Wamala repeatedly raped three young women, ranging in age from their teens to early 20s, while living in Nashua over the past year....

Wamala has denied the assault charges, and his lawyers also have filed motions arguing statements he made to detectives should not be allowed as evidence against him. A hearing on the various motions is scheduled Monday in Hillsborough County Superior Court....

Wamala’s lawyers argue the high-profile nature of the case creates an unusual risk of prejudicial publicity, and in a motion filed Wednesday, they ask the court to issue a “gag order” barring themselves and anyone else involved in the case from discussing it publicly....

Wamala’s lawyers also have filed a second motion arguing to suppress statements, including alleged admissions, Wamala made while speaking with detectives about the charges. Wamala previously had argued that detectives taunted him, calling him names including “pig,” “perv,” “faggot” and “nigger,” though prosecutors and police dispute those claims.

Wamala’s second motion argues that detectives questioned him at length after holding him for more than two hours, without reading him his Miranda rights, and also led him to believe they would let him go if he confessed to the charges.

Prosecutors have yet to file any response to the gag request or second suppression motion, and it’s not clear whether the court will consider those matters in the upcoming hearing, which was scheduled to deal with Wamala’s earlier motion to suppress statements.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Chess Now - episode 4

BDK wrote: "The lady in episode 4 is cute."

OK, maybe, but is it enough to sit through 28 minutes of technically deficient, excruciatingly bad chess video? You decide.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Another way to win tournament prize money

I'm not sure what to make of this item...

The Insurance company sponsoring the 2007 M-Tel Masters tournament is providing free life insurance to all the competitors for the duration of the tournament. I guess it brings new meaning to the phrase "he got killed on the black side of a Najdorf."

Resigning can be hazardous to your health

Ohio prison inmate Christopher J. Newton finally got fed up with his opponent:
"I don't mean to laugh or anything," he said with a chuckle as he recalled the fateful chess game.

"But it's stupid when you look back on it. He kept giving up. Every time I put him in check, he'd give up and want to start a new game. And I tried to tell him you never give up. You never know when your opponent is going to make a mistake. So you play it out until you can't play it out any more. I just got tired of it."
So what did he do?
Christopher J. Newton murdered his cellmate because he kept surrendering during chess games.
Read "A Death Row Republican" from The Other Paper.

Hat Tip: The Chess Buzzard (who has since seemed to have gone 404 - just like Newton's cellmate, I suppose)

Monday, May 07, 2007

Shouldn't there be a law against this

From Goan Chess:
Reigning World Under 10 Champion Girish Kaushik was felicitated at the Mir Sultan Khan Academy...
Being unfamiliar with the term, I initially thought the worst; but thankfully, felicitated means congratulated. I learn something new everyday reading chess blogs.

Mice running on treadmills

A father inadvertently becomes the chess clock repairman for his son's class. Along the way he shares some pictures from the inside.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

The role of chess clubs

Shaun Press has some food for thought for brick and mortar chess clubs that are struggling in the new online world:
The main reason we have chess clubs today (as opposed to the past) is to provide a social environment for chess players. Having said that however, my belief is that a lot of chess clubs are failing to provide this. And consequently their numbers are starting to drop off.

While I'll continue this commentary at some point in the future, I'll suggest for now that for a club to increase its numbers, it needs to revisit what demand it is trying to fill, and to see if that demand still exists.

Monokroussos profiles Vigorito

Dennis interviews BCC player IM David Vigorito at The Chess Mind. Here's my favorite part:
I grew up in Massachusetts and lived in Nevada from 1996-2006. I moved back east last July. Apparently I grew tired of the great weather, fine Mexican food, and clearly marked streets.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Hard times for the sidebar

This month's cleanup of inactive chess blogs took a heavy toll on the sidebar. No longer listed are Patzer's Mind, Globular, JG's Master Quest, Strong In Mind, Chess Vault, and The Chess House. Several of these were active, high quality blogs in their day. Hopefully some will find their way back to the sphere.

Among the Knights Errant, co-founder Sancho Pawnza has been quiet for awhile. In addition, Temposchlucker, who previously announced he was done, was removed from the active list. Of course, new Knights are always joining the path like recent additions The Common Man, Korsmonaut, and Hisbestfriend.

Beyond the sidebar, 15 other blogs went silent including Strong Among the Weak, ChessVista, Chess Boxing Club Berlin, and The Chessmill. No need to fret though, as new chess blog finds continue to be added to the listings. Besides those found during "The Bet", recent additions include The Chess Buzzard, Secrets of Grandpatzer Chess, Kenyan Chess Blog, Lansing Chess Club, The Chess Archives, Steve's Correspondence Chess Adventure, and Potentially boring chess blog.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Chess Bloggers Anonymous

Chess Blog Addiction, also known as CBA, is a well known, debilitating scourge on society.

As with all addicts, the first step to recovery is admitting that you have a problem. Today, Mark Weeks took that step:
It's been exactly one year to the day since I started this blog and it has become an addiction. I need help in stopping. Lots of other chess bloggers seem to be able to stop without any problem. Why can't I?
Can you find it in your heart to help him?

Mishkin crushes Tenn. High School Champ

The topic of last Saturday's Chess Notes column in The Boston Globe was this win by BCF member Paul Mishkin at the club. I am posting the full article since the editors at The Globe have yet to see fit to post the chess articles on the web. Hopefully none of the newspaper's lawyers read this blog:)
The Boston Globe, Saturday April 28, 2007

Chess Notes
By Harold Dondis and Patrick Wolff
Globe Correspondents

The Albin counter-gambit, which gives up a pawn for space in the center, is generally thought to be unsound, but Black has many tricks and traps to give him an advantage. In this game, Paul Mishkin v. Matan Prilleltensky, played at the Boylston Chess Club, Black instead falls into an opening trap set by White.

It is common in playing against a fianchetto setup to eliminate the strong fianchettoed bishop which sweeps the long diagonal. Here, however, the maneuver backfires, as on the ninth move Mishkin, White, uncorks a pawn offer that cannot be turned down. Black has three ways to take the pawn, all bad. After choosing one, Black's king position is decimated, and there is a slim chance only that he can survive. But Mishkin gets his pawn back and breaks down Black's king cover. Prilleltensky is a rated expert and the 2005 Tennessee High School Champion. Mishkin is a regular at the Boylston Club.

After 2...e5?! - The Albin counter-gambit is not a good opening. Although it is tricky, if White reacts correctly he obtains a very big advantage.

After 8.Qb3! - Notice that White indirectly protects the e-pawn since 8...Bxf3 9.Bxf3 Nxe5 is impossible with the queen hitting b7.

After 8...Bh3? - This is a famous trap. Better is 8...Nge7.

After 9.e6! Bxe6 - Forced, since 9...fxe6 10.Bxh3 and 9...Qxe6 10.Ng5 both lose material.

After 10.Ne5! Qd6 - Forced: of course 10...Nxe5?? 11.Qxb7# is mate, and 10.Na5? loses to 11.Bxb7+! Nxb7 (11...Kb8 12.Nxd7+) 12.Nxd7.

After 15.Qa4 - A pawn down, behind in material and with an exposed king, Black is of course completely lost. But the finish is still nice to see.

After 21.Bxc6+! - If Black does not take the bishop then he loses the rook, but after 21...Qxc6 then 22.Rb7+ wins the queen. Resignation is completely appropriate.

Annotations by Grandmaster Patrick Wolff