Tuesday, July 31, 2007

A Kangarevuoo

Shaun Press reviews Goldowsky's Engaging Pieces with a Down Under twist ... This line caught my eye:
(My review copy of the book was supplied to me by the author)
Hey, wait a minute! Where's my free copy?

FIDE chess comes to Massachusetts

The New England Masters Chess Tournament is scheduled for August 13-17 at the Holiday Inn in Peabody, Massachusetts. The 9 round FIDE Swiss tournament is only open to players with a FIDE rating of 2200 or higher and is designed to provide the maximum potential to obtain both Grandmaster and International Master norms.

So far, 32 players have entered including 4 GMs (Alexander Shabalov, Leonid Kritz, Eugene Perelshteyn and Nigel Davies), 11 IMs and 10 FMs. The US Chess League will be well represented with the likes of Carolina Cobra Lev Milman, San Francisco Car Fixer Josh Friedel, New York Knight Robert Hess and, the Blitz's very own, Bill Kelleher. Other notable entrants include all (?) the local three well known IMs whose last names end with the letter "o" (Ippolito, Vigorito and Rizzitano), former spammer Braden Bournival, and the lone female participant, WFM Elizabeth Vicary.

Rounds will be on Monday at 7:00 pm, then every day from Tuesday through Friday at 1:00 pm and 7:00 pm. Spectators are welcome.

Monday, July 30, 2007

The dangers of playing outside

From "2 shot during South Side chess game" at the Chicago Sun-Times:
Two men are in stable condition early Monday after being shot while playing chess late Sunday in the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side.

An unidentified man shot two 23-year-old men playing chess in the 7100 block of South Paulina Steet about 11:05 p.m. Sunday...

Caption Contest XX

This photo from the Kansas City Star already has a caption, but I bet you can come up with a better one.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

IM David Vigorito is new Massachusetts Champion

IM David Vigorito became the 2007 Massachusetts Champion by winning the Mass Open with 5 of 6 points. His game against Meredith was selected by IM Igor Foygel for the "most interesting game" prize. Congratulations to David.

Though not yet a member, IM Vigorito is a frequent player (and winner) at Boylston tournaments. We are hoping he will join the club in time to compete for the BCC Championship.
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Friday, July 27, 2007

Playing in the real world

Sciurus, the blogger behind Getting into Chess, reports on his first over-the-board tournament experience -- at the Boylston Chess Club!

He has some good things to say about OTB play in the post...
Here is the short message for all of you who don't have time to read the full post and play online only: it is fun to play OTB chess, go check it out yourself if you haven't done so.
...and about the club in the comments:
BCC seems to be a really good place to play chess. They have something going on almost every day.
Sciurus, we hope to see you back soon at another event.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

From the left bank of the Seine

At the club, my friend Walter Driscoll and I have a running joke about his years of futility in trying to beat me as White playing against the French Defense. Over the decades, we've played many games and all but once "0-1" has been recorded at the end. He's tried the Classical, Tarrasch, Advance and his current choice, the Exchange, but to no avail. Things have reached a point where before rounds on Thursday nights, Walter can often be heard muttering things like "The French is the refutation to 1.e4" and "DG is unbeatable when playing black." Of course, there are plenty of people around the club who would be happy to produce game scores disproving the second point. To add fuel to the fire, I'll usually add something like, "Well, according to John Watson, after 1.e4 e6!, White is struggling for equality."

The one French I didn't win against Walter? I'd read a Secrets of Opening Surprises article in NewInChess about playing an early h6 as Black in the French and wanted to experiment with it. Well, I thought, playing it against Walter probably wouldn't be that risky. However, after 1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nc3 h6!?, he went on to crush me. After the game I joked, "I'm never going to try that again. I mean, if I can't beat you with this line, then who could I possibly beat with it." We both had quite a chuckle.

It was a couple of recent blog posts which led me to share this story. The first, from the Streatham & Brixton Chess Club, offers a simple four point plan for defeating the French. I offer it to Walter as good advice, though I'm not feeling nervous (yet). The second is a mere mention in Tempo's Countdown to Dieren post where he says that he needs to "Learn a new system against the French." I bet Walter will have an idea or two for him.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Alexandra returns to the airwaves

After a nine month break, GM Alexandra Kosteniuk is back with a new podcast. In it, she explains that her hiatus was "due to her pregnancy and to the birth of her daughter, Francesca."

Let's see, a nine month break due to pregnancy ... seems totally plausible to me.
Speaking of Alexandra, I discovered something interesting. If you search Google Images for "Alexandra Kosteniuk chess", on the sixth page of results* (2nd row, all the way to the right) you'll find a picture of none other than BCF President FM Paul MacIntyre. Hmmm, what to make of that?

* Page placement on Google changes all the time, so check it out soon.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Reubens Landey 2007 round 3

After three (of five) rounds, Alan Price (3) has slipped ahead of the pack in the Reubens Landey. An astonishing 5 players took byes for this round, including Greg Kaden (2.5), so his match with Alan is put off to round 4. Carey Theil (2) defeated Alexander Paphitis (1) and will face 12 year old Andrew Wang (2) next week. Andrew beat Walter Driscoll (1). Jason Rihel (1.5) will face Alex Slive (1.5) who got a fish egg from Frank Frazier (0.5) for his own collection of chess caviar. Farzad Abdi (1.5) had to accept a draw with Simon Warfield (1.5), who will face the hopefully healthier Ken Newman (2). Philip Nutzman (1) will take on Walter, and Natasha Christiansen (1) will play Alexander.

The winner or winners will be invited into the BCC championship, in which 9 or 10 club masters play a round-robin for honor, $300, and free entry to a year's worth of BCC tournaments.
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Monday, July 23, 2007

USCL Blogger Award

The US Chess League has announced that it is instituting a Blogger of the Year award for the upcoming season. The award includes a $100 prize and "can be won by anyone from any team, or by any fan of a team." I suppose the coverage of the Boston Blitz here at BCC Weblog falls into the second category, even though some members of the team have previously expressed the view that the pieces are sometimes less than "fan-like." I was considering cutting back on coverage this year, but now instead, I'll be pulling out all the stops.

Just imagine what the West Coast conspiracy theorists will say if the commissioner gives the award to his sister!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

$10 Open

The $10 Open is one of the Boylston Chess Club's most popular tournaments. The competition is good and the price is right.
The $10 Open on July 21 attracted 38 players, including four masters: David Vigorito, Chris Chase, Charles Riordan and Alex Cherniack and seven experts: Carey Theil, Dyland Xue (from Beijing), Ben Goldberg, Andrew Tichenor, Bennet Pellows, Arthur Nugent, and Andrew Wang (just turned 12). TD Bernardo Iglesias was able to set up a separate U1800 section with twenty players. A fine and economical day of chess.

Roman as raconteur

Roman Dzindzichashvili entertained about 30 Boylston club members and guests last Wednesday evening.

He decided not to give a formal talk but use audience questions to guide his remarks. Initially questions were about openings and we learned about the intricacies of some lines of the modern Benoni.

But the audience started to ask about his opinions and experiences, so Roman launched into a fascinating knights tour of topics: collusion and corruption in the highest levels of chess, experiences with Bobby Fischer, the strength of young players (with the observation that "young" is younger that it used to be,) his most memorable game in which he discovered step-by-step an astonishing combination, the GMs he hates, computer chess (no human can win nowdays, though he answered a computer challenge in the 70s by stipulating that he had to win 7 1/2 of 10 to draw and 8 to win. Roman won 9 of 10 with his strategic trick - which he explained in 2 minutes.)

Dzindzi was completely charming with a droll sense of humor and we all laughed most of the evening. Two hours flew by. Thanks to the GM and thanks to Paul MacIntyre to arranging an amusing evening of chess.

You can view some photos at www.picasaweb.google/oresick/.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Chessdom Interview Part 4: Knights Errant

Chessdom: Can you introduce Knights Errant group?

DG: Soon after I started BCC Weblog, I was trolling around trying to find other chess blogs to share links with. Unlike today when it’s almost impossible to avoid tripping over a new chess blog, back then it was quite a challenge finding them. In any case, I came across two blogs who seemed mostly to be talking to each other – Don Q’s Mandelamaza and Sancho Pawnza’s Tactics Tactics Tactics!?. Both were pursuing the intense tactical training regimen advocated by Michael De La Maza in his book “Rapid Chess Improvement”. They had chosen to blog about their quest using the story of Don Quixote as a thematic backdrop. I contacted them, offered to share links and they gladly accepted.

Within days I came across Pale Morning Dun’s Self Flagellation to the Goddess Caissa where he wrote that his blog was “…In the tradition of (Don) Man de la Maza and Sancho Pawnza…”. At that moment, I realized that something really interesting was going on, though I couldn’t have known how big it would turn out to be. I decided to document the goings-on of this little band of chess bloggers at BCC Weblog. Every few weeks or so, I put up a post summarizing some of their more interesting posts and as new blogs joined the group I sought them out and maintained a list of their members.

For a short time, the group stayed relatively small. I still retain a soft spot for the original six – those mentioned above plus Pawn Sensei, Generalkaia and J’adoube (who I named “the off-center knight”, despite the fact that he has since trademarked the phrase – I’m sure the royalty checks will be arriving soon :) ). Each was also pursuing the De La Maza program and posting about their plans, progress, thoughts on improvement, issues with CT-Art, etc.

And then, things just exploded. Suddenly there were 18 to 20 active Knights. We were finding new ones almost every week. Some blogs started strong and fizzled out quickly, but many have stayed active and strong to this day like Temposchlucker, Takchess and BlueDevil. Over time the Knights Errant group has evolved – while it is still focused on chess improvement, its members have broadened their approaches beyond De La Maza’s narrow prescription. As long time members have left, new “leaders” have emerged. As disputes among members have occasionally risen, it has been remarkable to watch how the community has self-regulated itself.

The Knights Errant is truly a remarkable example of the development and strength of a virtual on-line community existing in the blogosphere. It’s continued growth and prosperity is a testament to its founders.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Easy for who?

Most everyone knows that I'm a big advocate of linking and cross-linking across the chess blogosphere. Nevertheless, I ran across this post at Knight of Chess Academy, a commercial blog which is somewhat surreptitious about the fact that it is a commercial blog, that rubbed me the wrong way. The author describes "the easy way you must follow if you want to exchange link[s] with me" - a six step process!

No thanks, I'll pass.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hold on to the hand rails

A series of photos inspired by a cartoon about playing chess on a roller coaster -- here's one of them.

Chess as Speech Therapy

From an interesting story about a Michigan father who decided to use chess as a means for addressing his son's speech disability (the original article is no longer available on the web):
As a young child, Ben was diagnosed with speech dyspraxia, which made it difficult for him to speak like his peers. Often his sentences would come out rushed and jumbled.

"They wanted to put him in special ed classes, but I knew that he was highly intelligent," Scott Ploehn said. "He was in speech therapy. It's just that he had to really plan out what he was going to say before he said it."

Ploehn and his wife, Kris, began looking into ways to help Ben deal with his dyspraxia - and that's when Ploehn thought of chess.

"I had played since I was in fourth grade and knew it took a lot of concentration and forethought," he said. "And Ben just took to chess right away. He just really had the mind for it."

Ploehn said chess helped Ben remarkably, and he quickly showed a talent for the game.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Alex Cherniack's Questionnaire Answers

1. How long have you been playing chess? Have you played it consistently since you started, or were there lulls in your play? How did these lulls affect your performance?

I've been playing chess since I was 8. My father taught me the moves so that I could follow the moves in the Fischer-Spassky match of 1972. I started winning games against my father when I was 10, and played in my first tournament at the 1976 National Junior High School Championship (won by Jim Rizzitano).

At that time I went to the Waltham Community Chess Club, then at the library off the intersection of Main and Moody streets. I met Harry Lyman in 1977, when he gave a simul at the WCCC. He invited me to visit the Boylston Chess Club, offering a free 3-month trial membership. I started taking the B&M railroad from my home town of Lincoln all the way into Boston, and have been playing seriously ever since.

The only lulls in my chess have been when I was in college and grad school. The breaks dulled my tactical alertness at the board, which returned to normal after two or three tournaments.

2. Aside from playing games, what is your primary mode of training?

I took lessons from John Curdo in the early 80's when I was an expert, but I didn't learn anything specifically that I already knew. What John imparted to me was that if I wanted to become a master, I would have to work much harder.

My primary mode of training has always been playing over whole games on a chess board from books, with detailed annotations (not Informant symbols) from world-class players. Such books are becoming more difficult to find, because all the analysis in today's publications is verified (and increasingly manufactured by) chess engines. It's hard to learn from "perfect" chess literature! It's interacting with human ideas on a page, discerning the mistakes, and writing the corrections in the margins, that makes me improve the most.

3. What is the single most helpful method of improvement that you have ever used?

Despite my above answer, playing against computers. Between the ages of 10 and 12 my father worked for Lincoln Labs, and I played against one of the world's earliest chess computers, a prototype created by MIT's Artificial Intelligence department. The program "talked" through a carriage return from a printer; I needed a chessboard on the floor to play out the moves. I swore that I wouldn't join a chess club until I beat the chess program in a 5-game match. I finally beat it after 18 months of trying, and joined the WCCC the following week; thanks to that computer my first USCF rating was higher than most (1443).

Nowadays computers are so freaking strong that playing them all day would be futile, and I wouldn't learn much either.

4. What is your favorite opening to play as white? As black against e4? As black against d4?

For some reason, my games are all over the Internet. Why database administrators find the games of an erratic 2250 player so fascinating is a mystery to me, but anyone can discover my favorite openings with little effort. At last year's World Open, 7 out of my 9 opponents arrived at the board 20 minutes late, looking up you-know-who on their laptops.

5. Who are your favorite chess players and why?

Victor Kortchnoi, for his longevity -- I can only dream that I'll be more than a honorary 2200 player when I reach his current age.

Harry Lyman, for his classiness -- he showed me in so many ways that competitive chess and kindness are not mutually exclusive.

6. What is your favorite chess book?

David Bronstein's book of the 1953 Candidates Tournament in Zurich. I have read and re-read it three times slowly, and learn something new every time I reach the last page.

7. What book would you recommend for a friend who knows only the rules of chess?

Tactics is everything in chess, so I'd recommend a book that develops tactical awareness and combinations, such as 1001 Combinations by Fred Reinfeld. The best book I've ever read in this category is Tal's Winning Chess Combinations by Tal and Khenkin, but it's hard to find. If you see it, snap it up.

8. Do you play in in-person tournaments? What is your favorite tournament experience?

When I can. I'm over 2200, so the only way for me to improve is to play in the open sections of big tournaments, where I get my head smashed in regularly by pros who study at least 4 hours every day. Because I have a full time job, and because I don't want to show up at big tournaments half-cocked, I prepare a lot. This means that I don't play that often; there are only so many hours in my day, and the tournament preparation doesn't have a long shelf life in my crowded memory.

My favorite tournament experience was a summer open in Ghent, Belgium in 1999. I was the only American in a field of 700 players, and no one with laptops knew me. I played in an uncharacteristically free-wheeling style, sacrificing pawns, pieces, and Queens in the majority of my games, and tied for third place. The event had an impressive closing ceremony, with a buffet, champagne, and a commemorative tournament book (with all the games!) handed out to the players. I spent the winnings on a five-course gourmet meal in Paris.

9. Please give us a link to what you consider your best two blog posts.

This is my second post to a chess blog, so this and the last one are my favorites (so far).

10. What proportion of total chess time should be spent studying openings for someone at your level?

To improve, many, many, more conscious waking moments than I have now. Even if I won the lottery and could spend all my time studying chess, I'd have to share memorizing opening theory with sharpening middlegame tactics and refining endgame technique.

From the Semiautonomous Tribal Area Times

13 Year Old Recruit Wins Al Qaeda Junior Chess Championship

North Waziristan, Pakistan - Nami Alzeri accepts his trophy from camp commander Mohammed al-Mohammed after besting a group of 18 young recruits in the annual four round swiss. Nami, who has been training for the past six months for martyrdom operations in the West, was quite pleased with his accomplishment. "God willing," he said, "Osama will be as pleased, when I bring the same destruction upon the infidels that my opponents experienced over the board."

We say, Allah Akbar, to that.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

david vigorito's questionnaire

ooh I like question games, so what the heck...

1. How long have you been playing chess? Have you played it consistently since you started, or were there lulls in your play? How did these lulls affect your performance?

I learned to play when I was around 8, but I did not start playing tournaments until I was about 16. of course, now we know that one must become a GM by 16 to have any real hope of becoming a decent player. My biggest "lull" was around 1988, and unfortunately coincided with the '88 US Open in Boston. I was 18 years old, so I may have had other things on my mind... Since then my activity level have gone up and down. I have never seen a drastic change based on my tournament activity.

2. Aside from playing games, what is your primary mode of training?

I browse a lot of books. I am generally too lazy to set up a board, but I have a good visual memory.

3. What is the single most helpful method of improvement that you have ever used?

to play! I think the main reason I became a master in a relatively short span was that in the late 80's there were decent size tournaments in NE all of the time. Another important thing to do is analyse your games. I do not do this enough. A common bad habit is not analysing your wins critically. It is more fun to pretend that you won because you did everything right, and that is rarely the case.

4. What is your favorite opening to play as white? As black against e4? As black against d4?

Is this the question I am supposed to not answer because my opponents may prepare for me? Oh well. As White, 1.d4, 1.c4, 1.Nf3. I do not play 1.e4 much because in my opinion, playing 1.e4 takes too much work unless you want to play stupid gimmicky lines. Against 1.e4, the Najdorf Sicilian. It is so good that Kasparov played it almost exclusively, without worrying that there was no element of surprise. Against 1.d4, the King's Indian. Unfortunately, it is no Najdorf, and it is not the best opening. But when it works, it is fun.

5. Who are your favorite chess players and why?

Kramnik. His games from the late 90's are great examples of power chess. I know he draws a lot of games now, but not losing is not such a bad trait to have. Kasparov, of course. No explanation needed. Topalov - the player, not the person. Locally, there are too many good guys to name. For the BCC crowd I'll name Mac*space*Intyre, LT, and Bernardo.

6. What is your favorite chess book?

Challenging the Nimzo-Indian? haha, just kidding. Half a Century of Chess by Botvinnik was ones of my favourites as a lad.

7. What book would you recommend for a friend who knows only the rules of chess?

There was some book called something like Kasparov Teaches Chess. It was some really cool games that illustrate the potential beauty in chess very well. And then there are some other lessons of some sort.

8. Do you play in in-person tournaments? What is your favorite tournament experience?

in-person? you mean like a normal tournament? yes, I do. My favourite experience was probably the 1997 World Open. I beat 3 GM's in a row and drew Smirin with Black en route to my first IM norm. I was .5 off the GM norm. I was rated only 2359 and it all caused a buzz. Unfortunately I lost with Black (my second in a row) to Kudrin in the last round without much of a fight, so it ended on a real downer. Winning 5 must-win games for my last two IM norms and winning the MA Open for the first time were nice too.

9. Please give us a link to what you consider your best two blog posts.


10. What proportion of total chess time should be spent studying openings for someone at your level?

At my level, quite a bit. I have lost too many games to GMs because I was busted out of the opening. The higher you go, the more time you need to spend. For most club players, you should only spend enough time that you can feel comfortable in your openings. It is much better to learn a few real openings than to play junk lines and have to switch them up every six months.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Greg Kaden's Questionnaire Answers

I have no idea whether readers of the blog who are not club members are finding these chess bios interesting, but I'm learning so much about people I thought I knew... but apparently, not that well. In any case, I'm heartened to see a number of different members participating, and for that, I have BDK to thank for his questionnaire. Who's next?

Here are Greg's responses (which he e-mailed to me):

1. How long have you been playing chess? Have you played it consistently since you started, or were there lulls in your play? How did these lulls affect your performance?

I have been aware of chess as long as I can remember because my father used to play regularly at the BCC (he is around 1500 strength) and we had all kinds of cool chess sets around the house. Eventually I grew tired of having mock battles with my father's Revolutionary War chess set and asked him to teach me the rules, primarily, as I recall, so that I could one day go to tournaments with him. I was seven when my father taught me the moves and some basic strategies. When I say "basic strategies", I don't mean the four-move checkmate, which he never showed me. That omission became an unfortunate problem for me at my first tournament, the Northeast District Lower Elementary (K-3) Championship at Austin Prep in Reading, MA. There, my opponents were all too eager to teach me the four-move mate, and I summarily lost my first three games in a grand total of 12 moves. I somehow managed to win my fourth game and then lost two long games to Ken Wright, who at the time was probably the best elementary school player in the state not named Patrick Wolff. All told, I finished 1-5, good enough for last place, an initial rating of 621, and a mountain of frustration for having failed to win a trophy. Despite my disappointment, I was encouraged both by my performance against Ken and by the fact that I was the only second grader in the tournament and my opponents -- all third graders -- would not be eligible to torment me again the following year.

The next year, I took advantage of the depleted talent pool to win the Northeast Districts and then the State Finals, in each case with a perfect score. This time, I got two huge trophies (which my parents are still after me to remove from my childhood bedroom) and a revised provisional rating of 1037. My mother sent a note to the local paper reporting my accomplishment and before I knew it, I was the subject of a feature story hailing me as an "8-year-old chess whiz." Grossly exaggerated and embarrassing though that article was, it attracted the attention of a college student in my hometown who was looking to make some extra money. That enterprising student -- NM Lou Mercuri -- called my parents and asked if they would be interested in hiring him to give me chess lessons. So began a series of lessons that continued on and off until I was about 15.

At some point during that 7-year span (probably around 6th grade), I realized that I really didn't enjoy chess very much. It certainly wasn't "cool" (and I thought I was all about being cool back then) and playing in tournaments didn't seem like a very fun hobby-- to me it resembled
voluntarily taking an exam, and I was already getting enough of those in school. Also, my father was starting to phase himself out of tournament chess, which had been my primary impetus for wanting to learn how to play in the first place. Yet, out of a combination of inertia and perceived parental expectations, I continued to take lessons from Lou and attend a handful of tournaments each year (typically the obligatory scholastic tournaments and a few of the larger local adult events, such as the Newton Open and Pillsbury Memorial). But that was all I did. I refused to read a chess book under any circumstances (because that seemed an awful lot like school) and also declined to do any of the homework problems Lou assigned me (again, that's too much like school). Casual games, even with my father, became few and far between.

Despite my appalling lack of interest in chess, my rating -- if not my ability -- improved rapidly. I broke 2000 for the first time at age 13, and reached a peak published rating of 2190 at age 16 (I had been rated even higher at one point unofficially, but my rating dropped between rating supplements). Shortly after reaching my peak, I obtained my driver's license and promptly quit chess "for good" except for a random event every year or two, typically a cameo appearance for my high school or college team.

Soon after graduating from college, I decided to give chess a try again. At first, I seemed to enjoy the game a lot more than I did when I was a kid. However, there were still many other things I preferred to do and, in any event, I discovered that my aversion to studying chess had followed me into adulthood. To top it all off, I had long since stopped taking lessons from Lou. The results were predictably disastrous. I lost something like 150 rating points in about two years, despite playing in only a handful of events.

After that ill-fated comeback, I again quit chess "for good" when I went to law school in 1996. Between 1996 and 2005, aside from an occasional off-hand game, I didn't play any chess at all. And I certainly didn't miss the game a bit, especially after other life events (law school, work, family, etc.) intervened. As my schedule got busier, I tried to find time for just one hobby. For me that hobby was….drums. I took lessons, watched instructional videos and practiced regularly on an electronic drum set that my wife got me for my birthday. A fact about that drum set is of special relevance to my most recent chess comeback -- it took me the better part of a weekend to set it up and get it working.

In the summer of 2005, we were having some painting done in the basement where the drums are kept. I came home from work one day eager to play along to a couple of Led Zeppelin songs only to find that the painters had moved the drums and, in doing so, had inadvertently (I can only assume) disassembled the entire kit. Faced with the prospect of a two-day re-assembly project, I glanced idly around the room and noticed a book on the shelf next to my old Crim Pro textbooks -- The Mammoth Book of the World's Greatest Chess Games by Burgess, Nunn and Emms. I'm still not entirely sure where the book came from, though I think that it was probably a gift from a well-meaning relative who remembered that I played chess when I was younger. Instead of putting my drum set back together, I quickly thumbed through the book, put it back on the shelf and left the basement. I repeated this process for what seemed like several weeks: going to the basement eager to play drums, finding, to my disappointment, that they remained disassembled (to my continuing surprise they never seemed to assemble themselves), thumbing through the chess book, putting it back on the shelf and leaving the basement. Eventually, I stopped thinking about the drums and began going to the basement solely to look at the chess book, which I was enjoying in a way that I had never enjoyed chess before. Before long, I was back at tournaments, taking monthly lessons with Lou and even leafing through a chess book from time-to-time.

Despite the long layoff, I think I am a better player right now than ever before, even at my rating peak. I am still a very weak player, to be sure, but at least now I am finally enjoying playing and learning about the game. That alone has helped my play significantly and has more than compensated for my diminished (and now almost non-existent) ability to come up with some of the creative tactical ideas that led to my most successful results as a youth.

2. Aside from playing games, what is your primary mode of training?

Monthly chess lessons and reading books on tactics or general principles (ideally ones that I can read on the commuter train without a board, such as Emms' puzzle book and Soltis's Turning Advantage Into Victory in Chess).

3. What is the single most helpful method of improvement that you have ever used?

Without a doubt, chess lessons. As noted above, I gained over 1500 rating points in an 8- year period by doing nothing other than taking lessons and playing a few tournaments each year. Given my steadfast refusal to study chess books as a kid, I'm not sure how I would have improved without the lessons.

4. What is your favorite opening to play as white? As black against e4? As black against d4?

Everyone has been dodging this question, and I suppose that I will too. I will say this though: I have always played 1. e4 and the next time that I answer 1. d4 with 1…d5 will be the first time.

5. Who are your favorite chess players and why?

Rashid Nezhmetdinov: His famous win against Polugaevsky is one of the main reasons I kept going back to that book in my basement (where it appears as game no. 40).

Lawyer Times: A model of consistency, success, and sportsmanship.

6. What is your favorite chess book?

Mammoth Book of the World's Greatest Chess Games -- The book that got me really interested in chess for the first time since my father taught me the moves. Entertaining and well-annotated games.

Play Like a Grandmaster by Kotov -- The only chess book I have ever read straight through more than once. Lucidly written and worth checking out despite the author's apparent -- and possibly unhealthy -- obsession with Botvinnik.

7. What book would you recommend for a friend who knows only the rules of chess?

I never read chess books as a novice, but I recently leafed through Susan Polgar's A World Champion's Guide to Chess and it looks like a very good book for beginners.

8. Do you play in in-person tournaments? What is your favorite tournament experience?

Yes. Work and family (wife and daughter) obligations permitting, I try to play at least once a month at BCC, Metrowest and/or Waltham.

A couple of favorite tournament experiences come to mind: First, the two 4-game matches I played as a member of the Collins' Kids against members of the Icelandic youth team, first in Reykjavik then in the U.S. and my 2-1 score against Hedinn Steingrimsson, then the Icelandic chess prodigy du jour and now a strong IM. Second, my T-2nd finish at the 1987 U.S. Cadet, where I defeated future GM Kraai, among others, and caused the only blemish on the record of the tournament winner, a 77-move draw against future GM Ilya Gurevich.

9. Please give us a link to what you consider your best two blog posts.

N/A. I am a blog neophyte.

10. What proportion of total chess time should be spent studying openings for someone at your level?

Much more than I do. It is very tough for me to follow opening books on a train, which is where I do most of my chess reading.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Not That I Intend to Go Out of Order ...

But I'm willing to play. Here goes.

1. How long have you been playing chess? Have you played it consistently since you started, or were there lulls in your play? How did these lulls affect your performance?

My chess life has lived itself through a series of endless starts and stops.

I learned the moves young, around five. I played in high school, and my first rating was around 1200. I played as much as I could until I worked my way up to about 1650. I then made a big jump (300 points in one rating supplement) by playing in the US Open in San Francisco. I rose to 1975, but then took almost a decade off.

I picked up the game a few years ago, and was able to make expert, but then again took a break. I have been playing now again since January and am just under 2100.

I don't think this pattern has had too much impact on my performance, which has been dictated more by my personal maturity.

I just don't take myself as seriously as I used to.

2. Aside from playing games, what is your primary mode of training?

I play as much as I can and have fun. I do my best to not get caught up in results.

In terms of study, I look at my own games without computer assistance, and do the hardest tactics problems I can find. Lately I have been doing some Informator problems with Lawyer, and really like those.

3. What is the single most helpful method of improvement that you have ever used?

More than anything, I have been helped by simply getting out of my own way. When I was younger, I tried to be perfect. If I didn't know every line, or have perfect concentration at the board I felt guilty. What I didn't realize is that it was those very expectations - and my attachment to some imaginary chess identity - that was preventing me from moving forward.

Now, my perspective is different. I enjoy myself and focus on finding good moves. If I am in a tough position, I try to find good moves. If I am in a objectively won position, I try to find good moves.

This approach allows my chess to be self-sustaining. I keep doing it because I enjoy it.

4. What is your favorite opening to play as white? As black against e4? As black against d4?

Openings? Hah! I probably know less about openings than anyone of equal strength in the club. A friend of mine, who happens to be a strong player, told me recently that adopting new openings is like buying new fancy clothes. They might make you feel good, but underneath the person doesn't change.

5. Who are your favorite chess players and why?

I wouldn't say I have favorite players. Or perhaps my favorite players are my friends at the club: Lawyer Times, Charles Riordan, Charlie Mays, and Chris Chase to name a few. I admire the games Chris Williams has played recently. He is becoming tremendously strong.

6. What is your favorite chess book?

"Positional Play" by Dvoretsky. (Not the Reshevsky book by the same name.) Also, the "Inner Game of Tennis." I also have to mention Rowson's books, even though I have a bunch of truly awful games in Chess for Zebras.

7. What book would you recommend for a friend who knows only the rules of chess?

"Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess"

8. Do you play in in-person tournaments? What is your favorite tournament experience?

I play OTB tournaments as much as I can. Nothing beats the US Open experience.

9. Please give us a link to what you consider your best two blog posts.

I'm sorry, I don't have a good answer for this one. I'm a blognovice.

10. What proportion of total chess time should be spent studying openings for someone at your level?

I realize that this view might be contrary to most of the strong players in our club, but I believe that openings are relatively irrelevant until about GM level.

Obviously, you have to be able to survive the opening stage of the game. I do work on my openings for this purpose. Other than that, I believe that openings for many players hurt their game as much as help. Players will reach a position they are familiar with and stop looking for good moves. I am more interested in improving my skill.

Before I end, I want to thank DG for his work on this blog. It is great to have a local community of friends to share my enjoyment of this strange game.


Jason Rihel responds, too.

Greg K. asked for other members to answer these questions, and since I sometimes post here, I will.

1. How long have you been playing chess? Have you played it consistently since you started, or were there lulls in your play? How did these lulls affect your performance?

I learned the moves from my parents when I was 5 years old, but I wasn't beating my parents regularly until I was probably 10. I remember once when I had started to get very good (I had borrowed a tactics book from the library, and I won at home with my arsenal of pins and forks), my brother and I played a game that he won. He then declared himself champion of the house and retired! (That old trick...) This was unfortunate, because I grew up in West Virginia, where chess events were sparse. Too young to drive, I had to rely on my parents to drive, which they were not inclined to do much.

I got the tournament bug when I was 13 years old, and a Chess Life magazine promotional appeared in my mailbox (I'm not sure how I got it.) Lev Alburt had just won the US championship, and he was on the cover. I went over all the games in that issue over and over, and I soon subscribed. I dreamed of beautiful intermezzos and stunning smothered mates, but didn't have anyone to play.

One day, in the tournament life section, I saw an event listed-- in WV! I convinced my mom to drive me to Fairmont, WV, and we stayed the weekend. I was a small 13 year old, and I made quite the sensation. I won the unrated prize, lost only one game of five. My first rating was over 1700, and I thought I was the be-all end-all of chess prodigies. That soon dipped to settle around 1600 for my first year of tournament chess, as the reality of tournament inexperience sank in.

Gee, there are so many stories about playing in WV, but I guess I will hold off. I won the top under 21 prize at the state championships 3 times in a row, and I was in contention for the overall championship once, when I was paired with an older expert who whomped me in about 18 moves on the last, prizemaking day.

I started a chess club in high school, and when I graduated, I permanently "borrowed" one of the club's chess clocks.... oops. I went to college at WVU, and I became a tournament director, a chess coach that met with over 100 kids in after school programs a week (in classroom settings), and the president of the WVU chess club. We had a vibrant little group, and I played a lot. We even found sponsorship to support our travels to the Pan-Am Collegiate championships, even though we always could only get 3 players to come, forfeiting board 4 every time. My first draw against a master, IM Michael Mulyar, of Yale, came from one of those Pan Ams, when I was almost 1900. Little did I know that it would be many many years before I could claim points off a master again, and that I was stuck in the 1800-1900 range for nearly a decade.

I went to grad school at Harvard, and my chess dropped off considerably, although I still played. My rating hovered around 1900 the whole time, so I guess this "lull" didn't hurt my performance exactly. It just kept me from improving any. Now that I am a post-doc at Harvard, I have made more time for chess, and maybe I'm even improving....

Anyway, once I started playing, I have been playing pretty steadily. I love the game, the stories, and the characters (oh the characters!) Ask me about some of them at the BCC sometime.

2. Aside from playing games, what is your primary mode of training?

I do tactical problems. I try to look at some problems every day. I hate studying openings (so boring!), but I go over the ones that I play when I annotate my tournament games. I have also been taking chess lessons from FM Chris Chase, who is guiding me through tactical and positional problems, and we go over master games.

3. What is the single most helpful method of improvement that you have ever used?

I balked for years from taking lessons, but my formal lessons have helped me the most. Since starting lessons last Fall, my rating quickly improved over 100 points to the expert level. If you look at my history, you will see that I have been at 1800-1900 most of my life, so at 30, this improvement is pretty substantial.

I should point out that I tried the Knights La Mazza 7-circles program, too. I used Emm's Ultimate Puzzle Book for my problem source. I did the first 4 circles, and then quit. I found the problems were so familiar after a time that I would just rattle off the right idea from memory, and less from true understanding. To get done with hundreds of problems a day, I would also start to ignore any important side variations, and this just didn't seem worth the time anymore.

So, I still do tactical problems, but now, I try much harder ones that require a lot of visualization of variations, and picking the right move orders, etc. So, I spent the same time as the 7-circles program, only on one or two problems.

4. What is your favorite opening to play as white? As black against e4? As black against d4?

I hate the study of openings, so I tailor this to my mood. Since Greg K. is my opponent next week at the Reubens-Landey, I will leave it this vague, even though he must know what I play by now..... If I still play the same thing...... If I am not lying right now.....

5. Who are your favorite chess players and why?

Kasparov, because he was a badass. Morozevich because he is super-nuts creative over the board. Topalov, too, because he can lose 3 games in a row and still win the tournament.

6. What is your favorite chess book?

I have a first edition of Fisher's 60 Memorable Games that my fiancee got me the day I defended my PhD thesis. That wins, hands down.

7. What book would you recommend for a friend who knows only the rules of chess?

I think the series Play Winning Chess by Yassar Seriwan is very good. He had 3 or 4 books in that series, and all are great for beginners. In one book, he takes 10 master games and goes over the motivation/ideas for each move. Everything I know about the Dragon comes from that book, actually!

8. Do you play in in-person tournaments? What is your favorite tournament experience?

I have played at the BCC for a long time now. My favorite tournament experience was playing in the Final Four of Chess with the Harvard team when I was in graduate school. We were totally destroyed by the experienced UTD and UMBC teams, but it was cool to be playing behind velvet ropes in the Chess Hall of Fame Museum, in Miami, FL. It was kind of flukey that we qualified at all, so we enjoyed it. And because of it, my picture and autograph are forever enshrined at the Hall of Fame... the only way I could ever make it there--through a fluke. Hah! The tournament made the local Miami sports news. At the end of the story, the sports anchors relaxed, but the camera didn't cut to commerical yet. One rolls his eyes and turns to the other and says, "You've got to be kidding me!" Oh well.

I also believe it marked the first and only time that I made the pages of Chess Life for anything (even though I lost all my games).

9. Please give us a link to what you consider your best two blog posts.

DG will need to help with with this, since I haven't mastered the posting tools here. My recent story about the terrible time trouble troubles netted 40+ reader comments, so I guess that hit a nerve. I once wrote an article in the WV newsletter about a tournament in which I beat a 2100 player in round 1 and then lost to a 1000 rated player in round 2. If I could link to that, I would...

10. What proportion of total chess time should be spent studying openings for someone at your level?

Way more than I do! To make master by beating masters, you need to know your openings fairly well. How often do I drift into passive positions against masters because of bad opening play? Answer: plenty.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Playing kid's games

BDK asked the questions; The Kenilworthian tagged me and now, assuming he still stops by here on occasion, I tag Java Joe of the Chess Castle of Minnesota.

1. How long have you been playing chess? Have you played it consistently since you started, or were there lulls in your play? How did these lulls affect your performance?

When I was about 10 years old, I fell rather ill with asthma and was laid up in bed for about three weeks. During this time, a friend of my mother's gave me a book on how to play chess. Having nothing else to do, I read it cover to cover several times. After that, I played chess casually with friends now and again, but never took it too seriously.

Several years later I picked up a book on the Fischer-Spassky world championship match and played over each of the games. I'm not sure I really understood what was going on, and while I continued to play friendly games, I still didn't get serious about it.

When I was a freshman in high school, I decided to join the chess club since you were "supposed" to be involved in activities and I was hardly a candidate to join the football team. Chess was fairly serious at my high school. The team had won several State Championships over the years and always competed in the Nationals. The previous July, recent graduate and Expert Alan Trefler had shared first in the 1975 World Open with GM Pal Benko. Alan's brother Leon was in my class and was the best player on the team. Alan took me to my first tournament a couple months later, The Greater Boston Open. I think I achieved an even score in the lowest section and a month later I was proudly sporting my first official rating, 1098.

From that point on, I played constantly -- at school, in scholastic tournaments, and at weekend events. By my junior year, I was a B-player and played 2nd Board on the team behind Leon. During our senior year, we won the Massachusetts State Championship, the New England Championship, and finished in the top 10 at the High School Nationals.

Once I started college, I drastically curtailed my chess playing. Over the next 5 years or so, I probably played less than five tournaments. Nevertheless, during this period I achieved a rating of about 1900. Some of this was due to playing relatively well, but frankly, I think the main driver was that USCF was intentionally inflating ratings during this period of time.

For the next six or seven years, I didn't play at all. Instead, I was preoccupied with my first job, getting married and going to graduate school. Later, out of school and not particularly happy with my job, I came home one day and told my wife I was going to go nuts if I didn't get involved in some diversion that I enjoyed. At that moment, the grand "one night of chess per week" bargain was struck.

I returned to the friendly haunts of the Boylston Chess Club on Clarendon St., where I'd played frequently during high school, and entered the Thursday Night Swiss. For the first few months I played terribly and lost about 100 rating points, but then regained my form and my points. In the ten or so years since, I've played consistently one night a week at the club and only on very rare occassion have I played larger tournaments (for example, I played the US Open several years ago when it was in Framingham, but only after reminding my wife about it every week for the entire year prior).

Only in the last couple of years have I seen an improvement in my rating to the point where I'm peaking my nose over the 2000 barrier more often than not. I'd like to think that I'm improving as player, but since my primary training activity is blogging it's hard to explain why. Then again, maybe USCF is inflating ratings again?

2. Aside from playing games, what is your primary mode of training?

Outside of blogging and reading chess blogs, I typically do three things:
  1. Re-read the opening books I have on the openings I most frequently play, over and over again

  2. Use the ChessBase on-line database to review Master games in lines that I am studying or preparing

  3. Analyze and annotate all my tournament games with the help of Fritz
I've also been playing quite a bit of on-line poker (with play chips only), but I'm not sure how much that helps my chess game.

3. What is the single most helpful method of improvement that you have ever used?

I'm really not sure, but if I had to guess I would think it might be all the time I spent in High School learning K+P endings inside out. I've never made a concerted effort to study tactics, so I would imagine that my game would benefit if I did.

4. What is your favorite opening to play as white? As black against e4? As black against d4?

Since plenty of club members read this blog, I'm not inclined to make their opening preparation easier. Therefore, I'll limit my comments to what everyone already knows.

I play 1.e4. If you want to play against the c3-Sicilian, then play 1...c5. Otherwise, play something else.

Against 1.e4, I play the French. However, I've learned lots of different sub-variations in order to avoid being predictable. If I think you've prepared for my French, then on occasion I'll trot out something else, just to keep you honest.

The rest you have to learn about over the board.

5. Who are your favorite chess players and why?

Korchnoi - Because he's been one of greatest defenders of the French Defense and because he bears a significant resemblance to my grandfather.

Sveshnikov - Not just "because he plays some of my favorite lines" (as Michael Goeller wrote), but because he effectively reinvented them, many times over. The c3-Sicilian would have been played out years ago without his on-going efforts and creativity.

6. What is your favorite chess book?

Probably Hans Kmoch's Pawn Power in Chess -- though it's not too useful for beginners.

7. What book would you recommend for a friend who knows only the rules of chess?

I don't know, but I suppose you could do a lot worse than pointing him in the direction of De La Maza's two articles [1 & 2], not his bloated book, or Dan Heisman's archive at Chess Cafe.

8. Do you play in in-person tournaments? What is your favorite tournament experience?

I am a regular at the BCC Thursday Night Swiss except during Championship Season when I typically play in the Reubens/Landey and Hauptturnier. I've played in very few weekend tournaments over the past ten years for the usual reasons - family, job, etc.

Not much great insight here, but beating masters is usually a kick.

9. Please give us a link to what you consider your best two blog posts.

I'm particularly fond of my post on the Pete Tamburro chess journalism awards, though I understand he didn't care for it that much. There are also several pieces in my USCL coverage which are worthy contenders (2005 coverage, 2006 coverage).

10. What proportion of total chess time should be spent studying openings for someone at your level?

I suspect I commit too high a percentage of my time to openings, but since I typically play the same people several times a year, I feel like I need to change things up so it is more difficult for my opponents to prepare lines against me. At the same time, when I know my opponent advance, I will often try to prepare a line against what he typically plays.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Transforming the Chess Blogosphere

DK's essay project on chess bloggers is well underway with nine completed to date (seven bloggers and two wildcard topics). Those hoping for inside dirt and scandal are sure to be disappointed. Instead, what we have is... well, to be perfectly honest, I'm still not sure exactly what we have. Words like interesting, baffling, enlightening, off-beat, thought-provoking, twisted, or captivating simply don't capture the essence of the essays.

They remind me of watching an art film and leaving the theatre thinking, "What the heck was that about?", and then continuing to ponder the ideas presented for days on end. Somehow, DK has this amazing ability to capture deep insights into people he knows only through this virtual realm. He wraps these perceptions in literary allusion and mystery and reveals them to the reader only with time and contemplation.

The essays themselves are not the complete story. Many of DK's comments on the essays are worthy pieces of writing in themselves. Without revealing any specifics, let me just say that his discussion on seeking truth over playing the game and paying a price for it, struck a deep and powerful chord with me.

Get yourself a large cup of tea, sit back in a comfortable chair and start the excursion. Then, give it a few days to sink in...

Monday, July 09, 2007

Headlines, Headlines, Headlines

Too many items, not enough time for individual posts. Vacations take such an incredible toll on bloggers...

Monokroussos retires again? - In a recent post, Dennis says that "blogging has become stale and a chore." I feel that way myself sometimes, though not at the moment. It never seems to take that long before the itch returns. It will be interesting to see how long he stays away this time. A new campaign, J'adoube?

Yes I know, I've been tagged - I'm trying to decide whether I should be happy with BDK for giving me an easy topic to post about or whether I should be pissed at him for telling me what I have to write about. I'll decide after I write the post -- which will take a few days, so bear with me. The Kenilworthian tagged me; I wonder who will be next.

First mover advantage is a powerful thing - In response to BDK's cautionary note, let me say that 1) the more the merrier and 2) I'm feeling more than secure in my role.

Africa, a hotbed of chess controversy - The Kenyan Chess Blog has been reporting on the inside dealings involved in the selection of the Kenyan team (here also), as well as the Ugandan teams' inability to attend the All-Africa games due to lack of government funding. It seems like chess federations in Africa are using FIDE as their model for openness, good governance, financial accountability and operational effectiveness.

Haunstrup returns - Joshua Haunstrup has resurrected his blog after a long hiatus with two games he played at the Boylston Chess Club -- a loss against Dan Schmidt in the October 2006 Thursday Night Swiss and a win against Alexander Paphitis in the 2006 Spring Open.

Chess Bloggers leveraging public relations professionals - Who knew that breaking into the chess blogosphere required the use of professional PR? I received this e-mail from Sara Walsh, who identifies herself as the Press Liason for Dr. Mark Ginsburg:
Seventh Rank Associates
Dr. Mark Ginsburg
Editor of http://nezhmet.wordpress.com

Sara Walsh
Press Liaison http://nezhmet.wordpress.com


Born to the Fischer era, Dr. Mark Ginsburg was one of many talented teens making the junior rounds in the 1970s. Dr. Mark Ginsburg received his International Master title in 1982 from FIDE, the World Chess Organization headed at that time by GM Fridrik Olafsson. He won the Manhattan Chess Club Championship twice, in 1988 and 1990, before that venerable Carnegie Hall institution sadly went the way of the dodo. His peak rating was 2578 in 1992, putting him 28th in the USA. His specialty is opening innovation.

Mark's undergraduate degree was from Princeton (Biology) and did graduate work at NYU, culminating in a Ph.D. in Information Systems. He is the author or co-author of two programming textbooks and numerous peer-reviewed articles on groupware, digital libraries, and e-business strategy. As for chess, his writings have appeared in "Chess Life" and he was the technical editor for GM Joel Benjamin's magazine "Chess Chow" in the early 1990s.

Using his skills as a writer and storyteller, he is now bringing to life his chess career of over three decades with enlivening anecdotes and wild games. IM Mark Ginsburg's new website is http://nezhmet.wordpress.com. From his 1974 game as a 15 year old against the great GM Bent Larsen to his more recent adventures in the 2007 National Open, these games come alive with his wit and banter rather then lengthy computer annotations. Print them out or bring a board to the computer, playing along with the games, you'll share the joys and heartaches of the moves he makes.

Macauley Peterson's favorite chess musician is Macauley Peterson
- It didn't do that much for me, but as you'll see from the e-mail below, he went to great lengths to make sure you didn't miss it. You have to admire his tenacity.
From: "Macauley Peterson"
To: "Mark Crother", "SusanPolgar", "Peter Doggers", "Jennifer Shahade", "bccadmin"
Subject: Macauley's "Today In Dortmund" -- Chess FM intro
Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2007 12:11:34 -0400

The first day of ICC's Chess.FM webcast coverage of the Dortmund super-tournament started a little differently from the rest. But you wouldn't know it from the ICC Chess.FM OnDemand replay. Ostensibly due to "sound quality issues" my intro was cut from the archived show. Yes, I know it was unorthodox, and clearly a little silly, but I hope some people were amused at least, and to that end I'm pleased to present the way the June 23rd show REALLY started…



BCC Weblog crosses 100,000 visitors mark - Now, that was a nice number to come home to.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Chessdom Interview Part 3: Motivations

Chessdom: What are the motives behind one's decision to start a chess blog?

DG: One things for sure, it’s not for the money or the girls. And nobody cuts me any slack over the board because they’re playing the chess blogger. I haven’t been to one of the big open tournaments like Foxwoods in years, so I don’t know whether I’d be swarmed by chess blog groupies, but I doubt it.

I suspect there are a number of different motivations. Some people just want to share their games with others. Some want to collect their thoughts and ideas somewhere and don’t really care if anyone actually reads them. Others are looking to benefit from being part of the community (this is particularly true for the chess improvement crowd). Some have a niche interest they want to bring greater exposure to. Others probably just enjoy writing about chess.

There are other motivations as well. Certain club blogs seek to promote their clubs, while others simply share event announcements and tournament results. Susan Polgar uses her blogs to promote her chess-related activities and run her USCF Executive Board campaign. IM Ben Feingold has used his blog to solicit donations to fund his chess travels. There are purely commercial blogs seeking to drive traffic to sites which sell chess-related products (sometimes openly, other times surreptitiously).

As for BCC Weblog, I had several sources of motivation when I started. I wanted to:
  • Learn more about blogging, blog-related technology, and the development of on-line communities
  • Have a creative outlet to work on my writing and composition skills
  • Bring additional exposure to the club and potentially even some economic benefit in the form of new members, new tournament participants, donations, etc.
  • Create an interactive space for members of the club to share any/all chess-related information (this has turned out to be the most difficult one to achieve)
You can read the entire interview here.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Wamala accusations contained in 4-year old "time capsule"

The Severine Wamala saga has taken another fascinating twist. According to the Lowell Sun, one of Wamala's accusers backed up her story to police by producing a letter detailing the accusations which she included four years previously in a sixth grade "time capsule" project:
As her sixth-grade "time capsule" project, the then-11-year-old girl wrote her most painful secret in a letter, folded it and placed it in a sealed envelope that she kept hidden in her room.

"There is something surprising about me that people wouldn't know," the young girl wrote in the letter described by Nashua police Officer Scott Ciszek.

She was having sex, she wrote, with a man no one would have suspected.

The letter was written four years before the police would knock on Severine Wamala's door in Nashua after the girl, now 15, confided her secret....

The girl showed police the letter that she had written in the sixth grade, because "she didn't want us to think this was a false accusation she brought up in the heat of the moment,'' [Nashua Detective Jonathan] Lehto testified....
Read "Police: Girl's letter discloses sexual abuse" from the Lowell (MA) Sun.