Friday, August 31, 2007

A knockdown, drag out ... and a chess match, too!

So you thought things would be quiet in the Northwest this season after Clint Ballard opted to give up his managerial responsibilities with the Seattle Sluggers? Clint, who? Say hello to Eddie Chang.

It seems that Eddie took offense to Arun Sharma's pre-season prediction that the Sluggers would place 4th in the Western Division. On the Seattle Sluggers blog, Eddie wrote a rant about how Seattle never gets any respect -- the Mariners, the Seahawks, and now, the Sluggers. I was waiting for him to complain about how East Coast food critics unfairly promote Cortlands and Macs over Washington State Red Delicious apples. In any case, accusations about personal attacks were raised (whether Eddie actually attacked Arun in the post, you can decide for yourself), apologies were offered, and apologists trotted out.

All of this, before the season even started... I can't wait to see what happens when Seattle plays New York!
As for Boston, just a week after suggesting that FM Kelleher might be the odd man out with the Blitz this season, there he was sitting at Board 2 in their Week 1 US Chess League match against Seattle. You can bet that self-proclaimed "event planner" Matt Phelps will attribute the lineup decision to player availability -- he's become downright Belichickian on this issue. Besides, after all these years, we know better than to suggest that the Blitz's manager was reacting to press coverage of the team.

In any case, the lineup of Christiansen, Kelleher, Shmelov and Williams ceded a 2400 to 2368 average rating advantage to the Sluggers. Fortunately for Boston, most of this deficit was on Board 3, where Denys' current playing strength is well above his USCL rating. Perhaps unaware of this fact, the consensus view among USCL prognosticators was that Seattle held a slight advantage going into the match. Ron Young claimed that "this one ... was easy to call" and predicted a 2.5-1.5 win for the Sluggers. OrangeKing noted that "Board 3 seems to favor Seattle" and also suggested a narrow Sluggers victory (he might need to do more homework than just comparing two numbers next time). Only prognosticator extraordinaire JG, he who obliterated the two official USCL guessers last season, came close by predicting a draw.

Instead, the Blitz managed to squeak out a 2.5-1.5 victory on the back of their new 4th Board, NM Chris Williams. It was not smooth sailing for Boston, however, as other team members in the virtual and physical crowd -- Riordan and Krasik -- had their concerns as the evening progressed. In fact, post mortem analysis suggests that Seattle may have missed some opportunities, particularly with the Black pieces.

On Board 1, GM Christiansen, playing the Black side of a King's Indian, sacrificed a queenside pawn with 8...b5; he didn't get a lot to show for it, other than the opportunity to win it back several moves later. The resulting position seemed relatively equal, though GM Serper appeared to have some initiative and Black's dark-squared bishop became bad after an exchange of knights on e5. As a result, Larry was reduced to passive defense for much of the second half of the game, but it was enough to secure a half point.

FM Kelleher's c3-Sicilian didn't achieve much against FM Mikhailuk, though the game did have an interesting tactical skirmish about halfway through.

Kelleher-Mikhailuk after 20.Qf3
In this position, Slava initiated the fireworks with 20...Nxd4. 21.Qxf4?? loses to 21...Ne2+, so Bill continued 21.Rxd4 Qxd4 22.Nxf7 (again, 22.Qxf4? is insufficient -- 22...Bxg5 23.Bxg5 Qxe4 24.Qxe4 Bxe4 25.Bxd8 Rxd8 -/+).

Kelleher-Mikhailuk after 22.Nxf7
Here, Fritz claims that Black missed his chance to keep the game complicated and perhaps achieve a slight advantage. The computer suggests the interesting move 22...Rc1!?, and its analysis continues 23.Rxc1 Bxe4 24.Qg4 Bf5 25.Qf3 Nh3+ 26.gxh3 Kxf7 =/+.

Instead, Mikhailuk played 22...Qxe4, and after 23.Qxe4 Bxe4 24.Nxd8 Rxd8 25.Bxf4 Bd5 26.Bxd5 Rxd5, a fairly equal endgame was the result.

Board 3 looked rather equal throughout, and when FM Schmidt couldn't do anything with his outside passer in a rook ending, the game fizzled out into a draw.

The match was decided on Board 4, where Williams faced NM Lee's Dragon. According to Jen Shahade's report on (well, according to Fritz, actually), Lee missed an opportunity to gain an advantage with 29...b4!, instead of 29...a4. With the opportunity lost for Seattle, Chris managed to convincingly outplay Michael in the endgame to secure the needed point to win the match. Check out this video interview with the evening's hero.

Who's up next? The other New Yorkers.

Disclaimer: BCC Weblog provides independent coverage of the United States Chess League. It is not affiliated with the USCL or the Boston Blitz.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Bachelor(ette) #1, #2 or #3

Photos from the French version of "The Dating Game."

She got the moon in her eye

In her new USCL blog, Elizabeth Vicary has something to share with one of our "cowardly anonymous" commenters (who, for the record, has had his comments deleted and his IP address banned).

By the way, when Liz calls BCC Weblog "often very hilarious," I'm certain that she means, she really likes it a lot!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Gata Unplugged

Here are a few interesting moments from an interview with Gata Kamsky posted at Schachblog. First, a comment from the interviewer when the two are discussing the impact of computers on chess:
Interviewer: In the early days of ... artificial intelligence the programmers tried [to] understand the grandmaster, now it's the grandmaster who tries to understand the programme.
...a view consistent with J'adoube's, I think.

Next, is Kamsky's response to a question about whether he is satisfied with his progress since making his chess comeback:
Kamsky: It's not easy to make the Top Ten. If it would be easy everybody would be there.
OK, I suppose, but then I imagine they wouldn't call it the Top Ten anymore?

Finally, there's this testy exchange when the interviewer asks about past incidents involving Gata's father:
Interviewer: There was open hostility by some players and in some press articles against you. Did you suffer from this at the time?

Kamsky: I don't like these questions. You are digging in the past. I think you should leave the past alone. It's a good time to forget about it and think about the future. I don't want to talk about my father. He's following my progress and that's all that matters.

Interviewer: Nigel Short recently refused to shake hands with you at the tournament in Montreal.

Kamsky: I don't want to talk about it.

Inside Baseball

Chess Bloggers talking about their visitor stats...
...though admittedly, I've been known to do the same from time to time.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Will Kelleher be odd man out for the Blitz?

With less than a week to go before the start of the 2007 US Chess League season, an analysis of the Boston Blitz's roster suggests that FM Bill Kelleher is likely to have a light workload this season; that is, if Manager Matt Phelps attempts to put his highest average rating lineups on the boards each week. On the other hand, the team's decision to use the October '06 rating supplement will likely mean a heavy workload for NM Denys Shmelov, whose rating for USCL purposes (2251) is almost well over 100 points below his current playing strength.

As a reminder, four person teams must have an average rating less than 2401 for USCL matches. In addition, for 2007, players rated above 2580 count as 2580 for average rating purposes. With these rules in mind, let's take a look at the lineup options Manager Phelps will be mulling over each week.

Two GM Options

If GMs Christiansen and Perelshteyn are on the team, then there are no legal lineups which include IM Sammour-Hasbun, FM Kelleher or NM Martirosov. Therefore, there are only three feasible two GM teams, including one that clocks in between 2400-2401:
  • Christiansen, Perelshteyn, Shmelov, Krasik - 2400.5
  • Christiansen, Perelshteyn, Shmelov, Williams - 2396.5
  • Christiansen, Perelshteyn, Krasik, Williams - 2381.5
One GM Options

Replacing one of the GMs with IM Sammour-Hasbun brings NM Martirosov into play, but lineups with FM Kelleher are still not feasible:
  • Either GM, Sammour-Hasbun, Martirosov, Krasik - 2400
  • Either GM, Sammour-Hasbun, Martirosov, Williams - 2395.75
  • Either GM, Sammour-Hasbun, Shmelov, Krasik -2395
  • Either GM, Sammour-Hasbun, Shmelov, Williams - 2391
  • Either GM, Sammour-Hasbun, Krasik, Williams - 2376
With one GM and FM Kelleher on Board 2, there is only one feasible option with an average rating above 2360. While it is not as strong on paper as any of the lineups above, the idea of playing NM Shmelov on Board 4 may be intriguing against certain opponents:
  • Either GM, Kelleher, Martirosov, Shmelov - 2371
No GM Options

The best lineup for the Blitz which includes no GMs has a lower average rating than all of the teams mentioned above. I suspect it will be used only if neither GM is available and not by design:
  • Sammour-Hasbun, Kelleher, Martirosov, Shmelov - 2365.5
Other Options

I've not considered the flexibility that using the alternates - IM Foygel and NM Riordan - might provide, though under the rules it is important to use them judiciously, if at all. However, there is one more obscure possibility which might be legal under the rules. According to League Rule A6:
Any team will be allowed to use a player rated Under 2000 for any match even if they are not on the team roster. This will add flexibility in case there is some emergency. Please note that this should only occur in case of emergency and should never be a calculated decision.
Now, I have no reason to know when or why there might be an emergency with the Blitz, but if you are rated 1885, you might want to drop Phelps a line:
  • Christiansen, Perelshteyn, Sammour-Hasbun, Unknown Player rated 1885 - 2400.75
You can't get any closer than that!

Disclaimer: BCC Weblog provides independent coverage of the United States Chess League. It is not affiliated with the USCL or the Boston Blitz.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

"Chess community" sought to intimidate Wamala witness

From the Nashua Telegraph:
The trial of a city man, [Severine Wamala], charged with raping three women was delayed Monday after prosecutors learned that two of the three women appear to have backed away from previous statements to police....

Judge Bernard Hampsey said he postponed the trial until Sept. 4 over the "strenuous objections" of Wamala and his lawyers. The trial had been scheduled to start Monday morning in Hillsborough County Superior Court.

On Monday, however, Wamala’s lawyers presented information to prosecutors stating that two of the three alleged victims, who together account for 12 of the 34 charges against Wamala, told an investigator last year police pressured them into making statements during the interviews in which they reported the alleged rapes.

The women’s interviews with police were recorded, and police found other evidence, including a diary, to corroborate their statements, prosecutors have said....

It’s not clear to what extent, if any, the women have changed their statements, but both women assured Hampsey they are willing to testify truthfully and without any help from court-appointed lawyers.

Prosecutors had suggested the women risked incriminating themselves on false report charges if they recanted their statements to police, and also said there is evidence hinting they may have tried to persuade the third woman not to testify against Wamala.

So far at least, the third woman continues to cooperate with prosecutors, however....

Here's more from the Lowell Sun:
Prosecutor Rusty Chadwick sought the postponement so that the judge could conduct a hearing to see if any of the alleged victims' testimony may violate their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Specifically, Chadwick said that two of the older alleged victims gave tape-recorded statements to the Nashua police on Sept. 12, 2006, indicating Wamala had raped them. One even has a diary in which she made note of it.

Two months later, the two women gave statements to the public defender's office suggesting they had been "intimidated by police to give those statements."...

In the incident of alleged witness tampering, Chadwick said the youngest alleged victim received an anonymous letter and e-mail in February from the "chess community" in which she was urged to drop the charges against Wamala, a highly respected chess champion, or she would be responsible for his death.

Chadwick suggested the handwriting in the letter seemed to be consistent with one of the other victims and one of them could have forwarded the e-mail to the younger victim.

Although the two older alleged victims were assigned court-appointed lawyers to explain to them the allegations, neither victim would cooperate.

"The pressure I got from the state. ... I want to keep my distance. I don't want to be threatened anymore," one of the alleged victims told the judge.

The other simply said, "All I'm here to do is to tell the truth."

Neither woman would reveal whether they might recant their allegations against Wamala, but Hamsey said that was a problem the prosecution would have to deal with.
By the way, I plan to e-mail the Lowell Sun to let them know that their characterization of Severine as "a highly respected chess champion" is not accurate. Regarding his chess activities prior to his arrest, it would be better to refer to him as "a highly respected chess organizer."

The New, New Thing

With the chess blog listing infrastructure rebuilt to accommodate my new approach, I've begun adding new chess blog finds again. Here's a round-up of some interesting recent additions:
  • Chess Behind the Scenes at has to be the most fascinatingly boring chess blog on the net. Post after post describes support interactions between users of the InstantChess site and the Admin. Here's a recent post on how to start a game:
    A player wrote in today and told me he didn't know how to get an opponent. I told him to click "play" or "start game". He wrote back and told me how much fun he'd had playing chess, and thanked me for helping.
    Each post follows this familiar format -- a player wrote in with a problem, I helped him, he thanked me. As a set of individual items, this blog makes a reasonable natural substitute for Rozerem. However, as a whole, I find this blog to be a fascinating study of the "life" of an Internet Chess Server Admin. He/she must answer both complex and simpleminded questions with accuracy and compassion and must accept grateful thanks as the primary reward. I, for one, would not make a great Admin.

  • If there is anything rarer than a female chess player, it must be a female chess blogger. I'm sure many of us lament the day last year when Perceptual Pawn went silent (Of course for solace, one can still look at Cecilia's picture). Yet, as of late, this sub-segment of the chess blogosphere has been growing rapidly. There are three women listed in the GM section of the sidebar, Jennifer Shahade blogs at, and the Diary of an Itinerant Chess Player and Chess, Goddess and Everything have been around for a bit less than 6 months.

    Now, you can pull up another chair to the coffee table for Castling Queen Side. Check out Polly's post on the top 10 signs that you're having a bad tournament.

  • Have all the really creative ideas for chess blogs already been taken? Apparently not. Claywizard Chess Sets - How to make one offers detailed posts on how to make your very own clay figure chess set. Who wouldn't want to own one of these hand crafted masterpieces?
  • Of local interest, our friends down the road at the Metrowest Chess Club have recently joined the blogosphere. In a related note, Harvey Reed's vision for intra-club correspondence server chess competition seems to be coming to fruition. He recently started a blog for the fledgling New Met League.

  • Finally, don't be too disappointed when you discover that Affairs of Chess does not report on the personal indiscretions of chess players traveling on the international circuit.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Kasparov at the Harvard Book Store

Hey everyone,

I attended the William Gibson reading at the Harvard Book Store (the independent bookstore on Mass Ave.) yesterday, and they announced some of the advanced upcoming book events for the fall.

It is not on-line yet, but they said Garry Kasparov would be here! It is very likely he will talk about Russian politics, but who knows? Doesn't he have an upcoming book called, "How Life Imitates Chess?" Maybe that is the topic.

Pay attention! I'm sure some readers here would be interested in this event.

Pipe dream -- the BCC raises money and organizes a simul with Garry for when he is here.... Certainly such a dream event would be well attended....

Value of Theory?


I'm curious what folks think about the new article on by Joel Benjamin. The topic is computers and the relative value of theory. (see below)

My position is that theory is overrated, and that many strong American players give too much weight to this aspect of the game. Further, even with best play theory gives weaker players (such as myself) an advantage that practically speaking has little meaning.

I'm more of a believer in Rowson's idea that for adult players to improve you have to increase skill.


Carey Theil

Ask GM Joel

Question: Dear Joel, Your June 4 column addressed a question about humans vs. computers in Fischer Random chess, concluding that, "So Fischer Random chess actually eliminates human advantages and accentuates computer strengths!" What about computers playing normal chess but without an opening book? It seems to me that top-level humans would have a significant advantage since opening theory imparts the "wisdom" of massive experience to the human.

By Jim Eoff 2007-08-18

GM Joel responds: At one time, computers couldn’t play the opening at all without an opening book. Their evaluation functions were poorly developed and calculating powers not strong enough to avoid typical traps. Now that computers are acknowledged to be stronger than even the best grandmasters, I’m not sure computers need an opening book.

Human opening knowledge uses assumptions based on past experience. We know that theory is fallible—how else could players constantly find “improvements” on established theory? Computers may not always find better moves, but they may choose perfectly acceptable ones that have been overlooked or discarded for no good reason.

Even when a computer plays an opening move which is apparently inferior, it can still put the human out of his comfort zone. Since people know openings so well, every move that is still in the grandmaster’s opening “book” is an opportunity for him to use that knowledge. By leaving theoretical territory, the computer, as the stronger player, should be better suited to handle the situation.

In its match with Kramnik, Fritz played an unusual maneuver with Re1-e3. Despite its weird appearance, the move still contained a drop of poison and Kramnik was fairly befuddled about how to deal with it.

The need for an opening book was put to the test in a recent match between GM Jaan Ehlvest and Rybka, generally acknowledged to be the world’s strongest computer. Rybka was allowed only a few moves of book before it had to play completely on its own. Ehlvest was given White in each game, and more time on the clock as well.

Rybka scored three wins and three draws. The results are open to interpretation. Rybka won handily, but perhaps it would have won by a greater margin with book openings? Ehlvest was also pressing in a number of games and could well have scored some wins.

In August I played a match with Rybka (ending 4.5-3.5 in Rybka's favor) where I received a pawn handicap in all eight games, as Ehlvest had in a match back in March. With the pawn missing, the games in its opening database simply don't register. Some of its opening moves seemed a bit strange, though perhaps not objectively weaker under the circumstances.

I would say that the absence of an opening book imparts a slight handicap to a computer, but not enough in itself to enable grandmasters to beat the top programs.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Once a journalist, always a journalist

Howard Goldowsky stopped by the New England Masters tournament on Wednesday and filed this thought-provoking, "informal" report:
I stopped by the Peabody Holiday Inn yesterday. I don't have a formal report, but what struck me was the complete isolation in which master-level chess tournaments are played these days. The Monroi was in full swing, everybody was following the games online, and there were no live fans on-site. It's a sign, I think, of just how niche chess has become (or always was). There was Alex Shabalov, by one criterion the best player in the United States, skillfully performing his craft, without a single fan -- not a single one -- there to appreciate it. There is a form of tension that develops between OTB players that doesn't get transmitted over the Monroi, and can only be felt in-person. If a position on a computer screen exudes tension, then the tension at the physical board is multiple times higher. This is why I mourn for the lack of fan presence; but like you, and hypocritically enough, I also had to get back to work, and I could not stay long. My entire stay lasted about 20 minutes. Alas, we all live, in some form or another, a slave-life.

Here are some mini observations about the tournament:

There were a number of photographers present. One said she was taking pictures for Chess Life. Another, whom I chatted with over the Monroi chat feature after I got back to my office, said he was taking pictures for Chess Horizons. Thus, the photographers outnumbered the fans two to one (the lone fan being me).

Brad Bournival looked his image of the 20-something entrepreneurial-gambler. Yesterday he was wearing an untucked, oversized Philly Flyers jersey. He looked laid back and confident at the board, very low-key and likable. I was surprised that I actually felt a connection to his style. If I was still doing interviews, he would be a prime candidate.

Nigel Davies was one of the oldest players, and he dressed the most conservatively with a button-down dress shirt. There were some other conservative dressers too, notable some of the foreign players, but most of the kids (and I say kids because most of the players seemed to be under 30) were dressed in shorts, T-shirts, and comfortable summer attire. The laid-back dress code was a striking contrast to the serious tension filling the room.

For your more salacious readers who like to read about strong female chess players, Liz Vicary appeared even skinnier in person than she does in her pictures. A significant length of her forearm could fit within the diameter of a half-dollar coin.

Shabalov was wearing a T-shirt, and appeared calm at the board, like the champion he is. Board 1, where Shabalov sat, used a nice wooden set and board. All the other boards used standard plastic pieces and vinyl roll-up boards.

Dave Vigorito is a tall, solid man with a physical presence. I imagine that he becomes intimidating when he leans over to examine his pieces. Liz Vicary has stated online that Vigorito is her coach. Before Round 4 started, Vigorito said a few words to Vicary (who was sitting at 0.5/3 points at the time), and then he went to his board. Little moments like these I find fascinating (as a former chess journalist). What does Joe Torre say, after he takes a trip to the mound, to the promising rookie pitcher who just gave up 3 runs without an out in the first inning? What words does the boxing trainer give the aspiring prize-fighter between rounds? This type of inside reporting is sparse in chess magazines and in sports magazines in general.

In a sad turn consistent with the proliferation of chess over the Internet, chess seems to be suffering from "science textbook syndrome." In science textbooks we see pictures of the "great scientists" along with short biographies and technical explanations of their contributions. In chess, we see pictures of the "great players" in magazines and get some technical annotations (sometimes from the player, but often not). The learning and the appreciation is all done second-hand, in an idolized way. Or, it's being done voyeuristically on ICC. In reality, the masters playing in Peabody (and elsewhere) are just normal, laid-back guys and gals who happen to play chess well. Yes, some are eccentric (and so were some scientists), but most are not. They all have their promotable qualities; yet, the public and chess fans never get to interact with them much except online. Without getting to know these players as people, chess fans are missing out.

I wanted to talk more with the TD, Chris (something) [ed: Bird], ask him about what it's like to use the Monroi system, what it's like to begin organizing master-level competition in New England, etc. It's great to see a tournament like this in our neighborhood. I admire the TD's dedication to chess, and people like him should be celebrated. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to chat. I asked him if he had an extra Monroi device to play with, but he said no. I am very curious to see how those things operate. What I'm wondering is if players bring their device with them when they get up from the board (or go to the bathroom), so they can study the position away from the board. Some players -- Max Enkin included -- were not using the Monroi. I also noticed that the "old-timer" Nigel Davies was not using it, either.

I wish I could write more, but, like yesterday, I need to get back to work.


Thursday, August 16, 2007

GMs lead the way at the New England Masters

After 5 of 9 rounds at the New England Masters, GMs Shabalov and Kritz share the lead with 4 points. The early rounds seem to be following a fairly consistent pattern: 1) When facing each other, the GMs draw; 2) When facing non-GMs (let's call them "pretenders to the crown"), the GMs put their lower-titled competitors back in their place. The only exception is GM Nigel Davies, who seems content to draw with just about everyone.

Heading into Round 6, the current group of pretenders includes IM Sarker, IM Milman, IM Ippolito, and FM Critelli, all with 3.5 points. Each is set to face off against a GM.

BCF President FM Paul MacIntyre is holding his own with 2.5 points.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007


  1. I usually wait for a new chess blog to have at least 5 posts before I subscribe to it (so many are 1 or 2 posts and out). However, I liked the title of this one so much, that I signed up immediately. Hey Chessdad, make sure all your shots are up to date.

  2. Likesforests' Become a Chess Expert has been renamed The Endgame Tactician.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Here and There

Monday, August 13, 2007

Wamala trial set to begin next week; witness tampering alleged

A former Lowell, Mass., math teacher is scheduled to stand trial next week on charges that he raped three women, a prosecutor said Friday....

Wamala, his lawyers and prosecutors met Friday with Hillsborough County Superior Court Judge William Groff and agreed to go to trial immediately after picking a jury Aug. 20, Assistant Hillsborough County Attorney Patricia LaFrance said....

Prosecutors filed another motion Friday, accusing Wamala of trying to improperly influence witnesses in the case, LaFrance said. LaFrance refused to discuss details of the motion or allegations, but said the motion was titled, "State’s motion to admit evidence of defendant’s attempts to tamper with witnesses."

It’s not clear whether prosecutors believe Wamala tried to contact the alleged victims or other witnesses in the case.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

I Give Up!!

I was browsing Technorati the other day and discovered that there are over 100 new chess blogs which I don't currently have listed here at BCC Weblog. All this activity occurred in just the past 4 weeks or so. Quite simply, chess blogging continues to grow at an exponential rate.

While I have endeavored to maintain the most complete listing of chess blogs on the web, this explosion has stretched my capability to do so to the limit. My current process for maintaining this list requires simultaneously updating the Other chess blogs post, a set of RSS feeds in Bloglines, and a separate Excel spreadsheet which I use to maintain last post dates. This has become too cumbersome and has to change.

As a result, I am announcing a major change to how the chess blog listings will be handled here. On the sidebar under Chess Blogs, you will notice a new link "More Chess Blogs." This link will take you directly to my Bloglines blogroll of active chess blogs. While this change will greatly simplify the administrative work required to maintain the list, it comes with several downsides for readers:
  1. All of the Other chess blogs are not as easily scan-able as they were in the listing post. You will need to drill down into sub-folders and, in general, use more clicks than were required before.

  2. There is much less categorization than before. For example, foreign language chess blogs are no longer grouped by language and categories like Commercial and Podcasts are no more. I could have created sub-folders for all these distinctions but it would have made the listings cumbersome and increased the on-going work for me.

  3. Chess blogs without RSS feeds will no longer be listed anywhere, unless they are on the sidebar.

  4. I'm no longer listing Inactive blogs. It just isn't worth the effort since I can't imagine there are too many readers who spend their time reading older, shut down blogs.

  5. My new approach will make it more difficult to identify Other chess blogs which become Inactive. As such, I will go through this exercise much less frequently and possibly not at all. As a result, over time the "Other" categories will include a growing number of Inactive blogs.
Obviously, I don't consider this situation to be ideal, but the alternative is to give up on maintaining the listings (which may ultimately prove to be necessary if the explosion of new blogs continues).

I will continue to maintain, monitor and prune the sidebar as I have done in the past and it should remain constantly up-to-date. Therefore, blogs on the sidebar will be substantially more accessible and current than those in the Other categories. Given this, I thought it might be time to run a sidebar fire sale. Do you want to have your blog listed on the sidebar of BCC Weblog? For an unlimited time, the price has been reduced from $0 to absolutely FREE!

This blog follows a "Give and Get" policy (you can read more about it here). Linking BCC Weblog on your blog gets you a link here. To jump start this process, I went through the Other chess blogs listings and identified 16 high quality chess blogs which include a list of chess blogs, but do not currently link here. I have temporarily added them to the sidebar under the "Candidates" heading. In the next few weeks, if they add a link to BCC Weblog, I'll secure them a permanent spot on the sidebar. Otherwise, there will be no hard feelings, but they will be sent back to reside with the unwashed masses in the Other listings.

The current candidates are: The Back Rank, BCM Chess, Become a Chess Expert, Blog of a Chess Nut, Burning Castles, caught in the fire, Checkmate, ChessExpress, Gila Chess Patzer, Hardcore Pawnography, Knight Skewer, Mida's Chess Corner, Patzer's Corner, The pHtest, SonOfPearl's Chess Blog, and Strong Among the Weak. Don't fret if your blog is not listed here. You too, can secure your spot by linking to this blog. Just let me know that you did so by e-mail or by leaving a comment on this post.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Here come the Grandmasters

In a clear sign that the US Chess League is gaining recognition in the chess community, several well known GMs have decided to join teams for the 2007 season. As a result, two GMs on a roster is no longer an anomaly and the Northeastern Division, in particular, has become a lot stronger, top to bottom. Let's take a look at the recent additions.*

The New York Knights seem to make a big free agent splash each off season. In 2006, it was the addition of GM Pascal Charbonneau and for 2007, they've added former US Champion GM Hikaru Nakamura, the second highest ranked player in the country. This is certainly going to take the rivarly with the Blitz up another notch. In two years, Boston has yet to find the answer to Charbonneau and, now this year, they may need to face him on Board 2!

Philadelphia has been a pesky team for the past two seasons, often playing over their heads, but ultimately lacking the firepower to seriously contend for the Division crown. That might change with the addition of 2605-rated GM Sergey Kudrin. We'll have to wait and see whether one GM will be enough in the top-heavy Northeast, but it is safe to say that a scary team just got scarier.

The 2005 League Champion Baltimore Kingfishers didn't stand still either. After losing Charbonneau to the Knights for the 2006 season, they've added GM Sergey Erenburg for the current campaign. With GMs Blehm and Erenburg, yet another two-headed monster has arisen in the East.

Add to these the Grandmasters on the two expansion teams -- GM Benjamin with New Jersey, and GMs Ibragimov and Stripunsky with Queens -- and one can quickly conclude that the competition for the available playoff spots is likely to be intense.

In the Rest of the US (read: Western) Division, the story is quite a bit different. The strong have become stronger, with the 2006 League Champion San Francisco Mechanics adding two-time US Champion GM Patrick Wolff ( of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Chess fame) to their roster. In addition, Vinay Bhat is on the verge of receiving his GM credentials. However, there are only two other Grandmasters in the rest of the Division -- GM Serper with Seattle and GM Becerra with Miami. It wouldn't be a big surprise if this year's standings in the West bear a strong resemblance to last year's.

The Boston Blitz have made a number of changes to their roster for 2007, though not at the top. The team will continue to be led by GMs Christiansen and Perelshteyn. Also returning for this season are FM Kelleher (who had a strong 2006 after a sub-par inaugural season), NM Martirosov and Ilya Krasik.

Three new players are joining the team:
  • SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun, who I actually don't know much about, other than the fact that he sports a hefty 2576 rating. Perhaps one of the readers can fill us in.

  • NM Denys Shmelov, who I believe may be relatively new to our area. In any case, he has been beating many good players at both the Boylston and MetroWest clubs over the past several months.

  • NM Chris Williams, who is a BCF member and former National Scholastic Champion. Every year, he just keeps getting stronger.
For the 2007 season, the league has introduced the concept of alternates. Alternates may be used to replace a player on the existing roster or may play in up to 2 regular season matches (with a maximum of 3 matches for both alternates). Previous team members IM Foygel and NM Riordan have been designated as the Blitz's alternates.
In one more lineup change, the league announced that Eddie Chang will be replacing Clint Ballard as the Manager of the Seattle Sluggers. To say that Clint had a rocky relationship with the league office (and others) in 2006 would be an understatement. As such, one can only speculate about what lies behind the league's olive branch:
The USCL hopes that Mr. Ballard continues to support the team and stay involved as much as possible.
* 2007 USCL rosters are currently unofficial and may change prior to the start of the season.

Disclaimer: BCC Weblog provides independent coverage of the United States Chess League. It is not affiliated with the USCL or the Boston Blitz.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Gregory Kaden is the winner of the 2007 Reubens Landey

Alan Price had won his first three games, but lost to Greg in round 4.

In the fifth and final round, Greg Kaden then defeated Carey Theil to clinch first place with 4 1/2 points. So, Greg will play in the 2007 Boylston Championship.
Alan Price drew with Simon Warfield to finish with 3 1/2 and a share of second.

Farzad Abdi beat Andrew Wang to get his 3 1/2 points and half of second.

Farzad and Alan may be invited to play in the championship, contingent on the field of club masters who want to play this year. Bernardo Iglesias will make the final determination.

Congratulations to all for a hard-fought tournament.
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Monday, August 06, 2007

Virginia Tech Memorial Fund Chess Tournament

Brian Salomon asked that we publish the following letter...
Dear BCC members and chess enthusiasts,

The Chess Club of Virginia Tech kindly requests your support and participation in its October 13 and 14 tournament commemorating the 32 lives lost and 25 injured persons in the April 16 massacre. To our knowledge, this will be the first sporting-type event to be held with all proceeds going to the Hokie Spirit Memorial Fund. Your contributions are welcome in any form:

- chess sets and clocks to accommodate new players
- lectures and exhibitions from talented players
- corporate sponsorship
- donated items for a possible silent auction

The entire student center is reserved for the occasion, including an 88 seat lecture hall. Local hotels and restaurants are discounting rates for participants. Media attention will be strong so this is a great chance to promote your organization.

Most of all, we want you there as a chess player. Details for players will be forthcoming from the USCF and the Virginia Chess Federation.

To become involved, please contact Chuck Ronco, hokiechem -at-, or respond here and I'll answer what I can.

Respectfully yours,
Brian Salomon

Saturday, August 04, 2007

GM Kritz at the BCC this Wednesday Night

The Boylston Chess Club Master Lecture Series presents:

A Lecture and Simul with

International Grandmaster
Leonid Kritz

Wednesday, August 8th, 7:00 p.m.

Where: The Boylston Chess Club

Admission: Free to Boylston Chess Foundation members, $10 for non-members. The simultaneous exhibition will be limited to 20 players; first come, first served.

Profile of GM Kritz:
  • Born 02/26/1984 in Moscow, Russia
  • GM since 2003
  • World Junior Champion under 16 in 1999
  • Participated in the FIDE Knockout World Championship, 2004
  • Member of the German Team, Olympiad, 2004
  • Winner of over 10 International Tournaments, including the Las Vegas Masters, 2006
Adapted from the event flyer

Friday, August 03, 2007

Can a Tiger change his stripes?

Just when Braden Bournival should be trying to get beyond his past transgressions and rehabilitate his reputation, he instead demonstrates how not to make friends in the chess community. At, Jennifer Shahade points out his comments regarding the US Women's Championship:
They might as well just flip a coin to decide who is going to win each game, because when women play chess the results are completely random.
Jen's brother Greg had an appropriate retort:
I'd feel a lot better if I was betting on you vs IM Krush in a coinflipping contest than if you were playing a chess match.
You can read all the fireworks here by scrolling through the comments.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Chess Arguers of America

Atomic Patzer -- who, despite two recent losses, is having one heck of a good US Open -- inadvertently reports on a meeting of the Chess Journalists of America:
Yesterday morning I saw a flyer for a Chess Journalist meeting so I went hoping to get some tips. It was just a business meeting and a comical one at that. The three officers really hated each other and spent most of the time arguing and accusing each other of miss [sic] conduct. Nothing was said about chess journalism at all. I went away thinking it was a nutty organization.
Now, remind me again why I'm supposed to send $15/year to the CJA.

Reubens Landey update

Greg Kaden (3.5) edged past Alan Price (3) by defeating him on Monday.

Carey Theil (3) moved into contention with a win over Andrew Wang (2.0).

Simon Warfield (2.5) beat Ken Newman ( 2.0) and Farzad Abdi (2.5) took out Walter Driscoll (1.0).
Jason Rihel (2.0) drew with Alex Slive (2.0).
Alexander Paphitis (2.0) won over Frank Frazier.
Natasha Christiansen (1.0) had to take a zero point bye, as did Philip Nutzman ( 1.0).
David Glickman (1.5) went bye-bye (round 4 bye and round 5 bye).

Last round pairings are:
  • Kaden v Theil
  • Price v Warfield
  • Wang v Adbi
  • Newman v Rihel
  • Paphitis v Slive
  • Nutzman v Christiansen
  • Driscoll v Frazier
  • Glickman - 0 point bye
Should be an exciting evening.

Inquiring minds want to know

Chess, Goddess and Everything also picked up on the story of the chess shooting in Chicago and noted that...
Unfortunately, the story is lacking in much detail
I couldn't agree more. For instance, what opening were they playing, what was the time control, and who had the initiative when the shots rang out.