Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Chess Treat - Weaver Adams v Harry Lyman

Halloween Chess Treat Weaver Warren Adams vs Harry Lyman

"Frankenstein Meets Dracula"

(game of the day Oct-31-06) Boston 1946 ·

Vienna Game: Stanley. Frankenstein-Dracula Variation (C27) · 0-1

Mike Griffin 10/31/2008

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

USCL-- Boston Blitz vs. Queens

Last week, I looked too far into the future, and it left me too psychically scarred to continue with my seering.

However, in the 9th week rematch, the Blitz crushed a Philadelphia team. Two factors were involved-- Marc Esserman was playing on Board 3, and Ilya had the White pieces. Perhaps IM Costigan didn't realize that Marc plays a wicked Dutch, and Bengston couldn't whip on the Benko Gambit like in their first encounter. In fact, Ilya played another front to back convincing win with White.

While my brain is still damaged by the bleak, black future I have seen (seriously, everyone just quietly meditate on how great life used to be if you are still alive on June 10th, 2067.) I will look ahead a mere handful of hours to foretell of the Blitz-Queens showdown, Horoscope style.

Here are the lineups:

Boston has White on 1&3

Boston Blitz Queens Pioneers
GM Larry Christiansen: 2670 IM Dmitry Schneider: 2508
GM Eugene Perelshteyn: 2619 IM Eli Vovsha: 2532
SM Marc Esserman: 2307 IM Alex Lenderman: 2528
NM Ilya Krasik: 2144 Benjamin Katz: 2108
Avg Rating: 2435 Avg Rating: 2419

Board 1

Mercury is in the 5th house, and Venus is knocking on his door. If you are playing the White pieces today, watch out for dogs under your feet. They have bite. However, we all know what happens when Venus comes calling at your house. Peace ensues-- enjoy it.

Board 2

In the 7th Book of the Land of Colchicinia, the great battle between the House of Pearls and Lord Vovsha was foretold. Dark tidings were written of a wannabe GM raging against one already christened. The land was littered with bodies, until only one man stood, his armour covered with blood, his body covered with injuries. And that man was.... unfortunately, the 7th Book of the Land of Colchicinia had the last pages ripped out. Great, so I have to guess now. Seriously, what is so great about a collection of seersaying future books if pages are missing? Hmmm, Vovsha?

Board 3

This is the battle of the week-- the two players, Marc Esserman and Alex Lendermann have been beastial in the US Chess League this year. Neither has been defeated. Which is why the following horoscope, revealed to me in a psychic coma, is so annoying.

If you are sitting on the 3rd rung and have yet to suffer a defeat, WATCH OUT! Your opponent will be well prepared for you and your opening weapons. Stick to what you know, and you should be able to avoid the worst of the landmines to claim victory. Seeking the blacksmith Morra for your battle armour will be fruitless today. Sticking a knight on the d2 square is always visually appealing.

Board 4. I found this cryptic poem in the Ancient Book of Gaming. (Yes, the word "Ancient" is in the title.)

with Valium?

What could this mean? Here is the horoscope I've divined: Calmly, calmly go forward. The path to peace is always frought with danger, but in the end, peace wins out over the wicked.

My psyche is sputtering. Good luck Blitz.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chess and Insanity

Chess and Insanity

Earlier we wrote about chess and intelligence, and how chess can be considered a positive psychological developmental tool in learning from game experiences that also relate to life in general. Nevertheless many in the public believe there is a dark side of chess; that the super gifted chess player having to use huge amounts of brain power, are in danger of exerting so much effort that it can cause insanity.

Many things in life get little return of investment, but time studying chess usually brings enjoyment and victories. Some claim this can lead an over compulsive drive of dedicating too much time in the study of chess, to the detriment of other life responsibilities, that could eventually be personally destructive.

Bobby Fischer's (1943 2008) problems didn't help with this idea as he was paranoid and schizophrenic. As wonderful a player that he was; his bigotry and outrageous beliefs tainted a wonderful chess career full of fantastic games. His distrustfulness made it difficult for him to get proper medical care that probably would have extend his life. And sad to say he wasn't the only best player in the world, in their times, to die insane.

Wilhelm Steinitz (1836-1900) legend says he once claimed to have beat God giving pawn odds and believed that he could telephone people without the need of a telephone. One story has it that he could communicate with God this way. He died a schizophrenic at the East River Sanatorium on Ward's Island in New York.

Paul Morphy (1837-1884) had a thing for women's shoes, believed his brother-in-law cheated him out of part of his inheritance, and had a constant fear that someone was going to poison him. He died insane at the age of 47.

Harry Nelson Pillsbury (1872 1906) suffered from syphilis which caused poor health and insanity.

And Alexander Alekhine (1892-1946) married four women who were 20 to 40 years older then himself.

Given the population of chess players and champions I would like to believe that probably there is no causal connection that can be made between chess champions and insanity. A great percentage of people suffer psychologically in some way during a period in their lives. In fact, these above stories go contrary to my experience which is that most chess masters are not only very intelligent, most are exceptionally mentally well balanced. Masters typically have a have terrific, brutally frank, honesty about evaluating situations objectively. And it's these abilities that give them the characteristics necessary to have good judgment and excel. And most masters seem to be generally good people.

What is you feeling about chess, chess masters, compulsiveness, sanity, and insanity please comment?

Mike Griffin 10/28/2008

Steinitz versus God
Edward Winter

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Those Lying Eyes: How Hertan's "Computer Eyes" might fight the "Pernicious Einstellung Effect"

Copyright © 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Why good thoughts block better ones: The mechanism of the pernicious Einstellung (set) effect

Merim Bilalića,Peter McLeoda and Fernand Gobet

Oxford University, Department of Experimental Psychology, South Parks Road, OX1 3UD, Oxford, UK bBrunel University, School of Social Sciences, Uxbridge, UB8 3PH, UK
Received 5 February 2007; revised 6 May 2008; accepted 8 May 2008. Available online 18 June 2008.


The Einstellung (set) effect occurs when the first idea that comes to mind, triggered by familiar features of a problem, prevents a better solution being found. It has been shown to affect both people facing novel problems and experts within their field of expertise. We show that it works by influencing mechanisms that determine what information is attended to.

Having found one solution, expert chess players reported that they were looking for a better one. But their eye movements showed that they continued to look at features of the problem related to the solution they had already thought of.

The mechanism which allows the first schema activated by familiar aspects of a problem to control the subsequent direction of attention may contribute to a wide range of biases both in everyday and expert thought – from confirmation bias in hypothesis testing to the tendency of scientists to ignore results that do not fit their favoured theories.

Will Chess at Burger King be Under Review Next?

Nutritional habits of young chess players.

[English Abstract , Article in Polish]

Fornal-Urban A, Keska A, Dobosz J, Nowacka-Dobosz S.

Endokrynol Diabetol Chor Przemiany Materii Wieku Rozw. 2008;14(3):187-91.[

Introduction: Proper nutrition plays significant role in children's development and health protection in adults, as well. Therefore such a study is extremely important particularly among youth population. It is well known that adequate nutrition also helps to achieve high sport results.

The aim of the study was the nutritional habits evaluation of young chess players. Material and methods: A total of 75 chess players aged 8-19 years took part in the study. Among them there were 36 girls (48%) and 39 boys (52%).

Subjects belonged to the Polish Chess Academy, medalists of the Polish, European and world youth championships and members of the Polish national team. Used questionnaire allowed to collect data about regular diet of young athletes.

Results: Recommended number of 4-5 meals per day was consumed only by 55% persons. Another observed disadvantageous nutritional habit among responders was missing first breakfasts (75%), especially during competitions. Less than half of subjects declared regular meals intake during the day (from 25 to 43%). Moreover, it was noticed, that 13,3% chess players ate vegetables and fruits only one time per day. Sweets were taken at least one time per day by 22 to 50% participants.

Conclusions: Due to numerous nutritional mistakes in studied population it is compulsory to conduct nutritional education among athletes and among their parents and coaches as well.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

BU Open Sat Nov 1

Sat., Nov. 1, 2008

14th annual

Boston University Open

(in association with the Boylston Chess Foundation)

4-SS; G/60; 3 Sections: Open; U1900; U1600

Boston University,
George Sherman Union
775 Commonwealth Ave. Boston 02215

Parking is across University road just before the BU bridge on the same side of Comm. Ave. as the George Sherman Union.

E F:
$15 for BU students (BUID)
$20 if check received by Oct 30
$20 by email by Oct 30
$30 for all others at site

Cash Prizes: based on Entries. In past years the prize fund has been more than $1000 and the first prize around $300. Because prize checks will be mailed by Boston University, winner must provide home address and social security number to receive a check.
Open section: 1st & 2nd / Top under 2200
U1900 section: 1st & 2nd
U1600 section: 1st & 2nd l/ Top under 1200
Allan Ong Prize for the top undergraduate college student:

Trophies for 3 player teams: Top college / Top high school / Top elementary or middle school

NC, NS, W.

Reg: 9:00 - 9:45 am
Rds: 10:00, 12:30, 2:45, 5:00

Ent: send name, section desired, USCF number and check
made out to the BU Chess Club to
BU Open Entries
c/o Robert Oresick
Boston University
871 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215
phone: 617 794 -1200
website at :

Historical background.

The Boston University Open is the BU Chess Club's premier event. The idea of having an inexpensive convenient rated event was suggested by the club President Allan Ong to promote playing serious tournament chess among college players, though all chess players are welcomed. Since the first BU Open in 1995, players ranging from beginners in their first rated tournament ( e.g. the club advisor Robert Oresick) to strong players from around the East Coast (and in the Frenklakh years, from California) have tried their hand at winning the top prize (including former US Chess Champions GM Joel Benjamin, GM Alexander Ivanov and former US Women's Champion WIM Esther Epstein (who works at Boston University).)

After 12 years, the BU Open is still inexpensive, convenient, and competitive. The BU Open is an all-day event with four rounds of non-stop chess action. From the first round at 10 am to the end of the last game at around 7 pm each player gets a full day of exciting chess action. There is no elimination. In the Swiss tournament system each person plays all four games - pairings at each round are based on results, so as one wins, one plays against others also having a good day. One of the delights of a rated chess event is that competition is fierce, especially during the latter rounds. No quarter is given or offered between those in contention of the top prize. Not only does the winner receive cash (usually around $300 based on entries) for his efforts, but also s/he is immortalized by having his/her name inscribed on the perpetual plaque.

The first BU Open was held on November 18, 1995 and was won by Prof. and National Master (NM) Timothy Sage of Northeastern University, outscoring FM Bill Paschall who was a BU student and BUCC member at the time.

Then, in 1996, the four-way tie included Daniel Bartley, Andrey Shlyakhter, Ray Sayers, and Mike Henroid of Boston College.

In 1997 Harvard student NM Jacob Chudnovsky won.

The 1998 tournament honors were shared by FIDE Master (FM) Bill Kelleher and NM Klaus Pohl. FM Kelleher's win was a milestone in itself as it marked him as the first BU (graduate) student to win the tournament.

The 1999 BU Open was to that date, the largest in the tournament's history. A record 93 players attended, including former US Champion GM Alexander Ivanov, the then current US Champion GM Joel Benjamin, and former US Women's Champion WIM Esther Epstein, and FM Bill Kelleher (a BU alum) who scored 4 points and won a clear first place and $350, helped by the drawn result when the two GMs faced one-another. Ivanov and Benjamin shared 2nd place, and they each received $90.

In year 2000, the new millennium marked the return of now International Master (IM) "Buccaneer Bill" Paschall to the BU Open, as he cruised to a perfect 4-0 to finish clear first.

Three persons shared the top spot in 2001, New York's FM Ronald Young tied with local masters FM William Kelleher and NM Alex Cherniak . FM Ron Young was also the first player outside of MA to win the tournament.

In 2002 FM Ronald Young of New York and expert Niman Kenkre shared top honors.

In 2003 GM Alexander Ivanov took the first place prize of $300, after some very exciting games, including a tense, time-pressured match with IM Bill Paschall.

In 2004 GM Ivanov won all four games for a repeat.

The co-winners in 2005 were FM Christopher Chase and NM Christopher Williams (Boston Latin.)

The co-winners for 2006 were GM Alexander Ivanov, FM William Kelleher, and Max Malyuta.

In 2007 Harvard freshmen FIDE master Teddy Coleman was the sole winner.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Homicide results from chess-game altercation.

Police: Homicide apparently results from chess-game altercation
By: Ashton Shurson - The Daily Iowan

Posted: 10/20/08

Neighbors and friends said on Sunday that they were "shocked" to hear about a killing of a man allegedly by his apparent friend in a quiet Iowa City neighborhood.

Police charged David Christian, 29, 418 Brown St. Apt. 6, in the death of 39-year-old Michael Steward, 418 Brown St. Apt. 4, at Christian's apartment early Sunday morning after an alleged altercation over a game of chess.Christian faces charges of second-degree murder and public intoxication.

As of Sunday night, he was being held at Johnson County Jail on a $25,300 bond.This ...Police believe Christian and Steward argued over a chess match, which eventually "escalated into a physical altercation" and resulted in the death of Steward.

Officers responded to Christian's home for medical assistance at 3:08 a.m. Sunday and found Steward unconscious, police said. Steward was taken to Mercy Hospital and declared dead shortly after, authorities said.

The duo's night ended with tragedy, people who knew Steward and Christian said the two were friends. Jay Schleidt - who lives in the apartment complex beside the two men - said he thought Steward and Christian were really good friends who often spent time together.

"I'm pretty shocked," Schleidt said. "I saw them both a day or so ago." He said the two played chess daily and frequently played Scrabble as well. They liked to listen to music and discuss politics with one another, he said.

The two also drank "quite a bit," the 28-year-old neighbor said."They were very quiet and nice people," Schledit said. "It might have been that [Christian] was too drunk."

Gail Cox, who lives a floor above the two men, said she thinks Christian and Steward would spend time together frequently and smoke and drink outside. "It surprised me because of who they are," Cox said, referring to their friendship.

Other neighbors were dismayed to hear of an alleged homicide in the Gaslight Village - a place known as a "haven" and "sanctuary" for artists and writers who want to live in a quiet, secluded environment, according a website for the neighborhood.

Jess Eaton, another resident of the village, said she didn't know the two men but couldn't believe this had happened."We were just talking about how peaceful this area was," Eaton said.

Joe Miller, who is staying with a friend in a building next to Steward's and Christian's, said he came home around 4 a.m. Sunday and saw police cars and ambulances."I woke up [the next morning] and people were crying," Miller said. "It was really intense.

"On Sunday afternoon, Christian's parents arrived at the apartment complex, but his father, Roger Christian, refused to speak to reporters.

Second-degree murder, a Class B felony, is punishable by 50 years in prison.Police said the investigation continues and autopsy results are expected early this week.

© Copyright 2008 Daily Iowan

New board for the boylston chess foundation

At the annual meeting this evening, Oct 21, the members voted recommendations for the 2008-2009 board and officers, after which, in accordance with the by-laws, the incumbent board formally voted the new board in.

President David Vigorito

VP Kent Leung
Treasurer Robert Oresick
Clerk tba

Directors: Chris Chase, William Kelleher, Mike Griffin, Bernardo Iglesias, Carey Theil, Charles Riordan, Marc Esserman, Jason Rihel, Natasha Christiansen, Alex Cherniack.

Congratulations to all and thank you in advance for your coming year of service.

All on the board invite the support of all members in maintaining and and expanding the activities of the foundation.

Chris Chase on his BCC Plans

Recently we asked Chris Chase and David Vigorito to post their plans for the Boylston Chess Club if they were elected President (remember to come to the meeting tonight). Here are Chris's thoughts. Formatting mistakes are my fault only.

Sorry for the delay in putting something up on the blog about my candidacy for the BCC presidency but I have been pretty ill with a terrible head cold that has plagued me for several weeks and I am hardly 100% as I type this so I ask for your understanding. Anyway, I am currently the VP of the BCC. I am the chair of the Development Committee that resulted in our excellent first annual fund raising last year during which we raised close to $5,000 for the club. I currently run the Early Bird QuickPlay Quads on Wednesday nights. I run the club's scholastic program and am looking to expand that. I also fill in when Bernardo needs time off. I became a TD this past year to do these things. One thing we certainly need more of are TD's but more on this later.

Going forward, I see the big issues for the club as, but necessarily limited to, the following:

1. Expand the volunteer base for the club. It is just not healthy for the club to use and abuse just a small number of people to keep club going. Certainly one of those areas is TDs. It is just not right for the club to put so much weight on Bernardo for tournament directing as it has in the past. We really need to reach to all club members to make sure that they all know that the club is a volunteer organization and that needs the active participation in club management. If I can pass the TD exam, then just about everyone can.

2. One pending huge issue is the status of our space. We currently do not have a lease, though there has been some talk of the landlord proposing one. In any case, we will need to constantly watch our housing situation in the next year.

3. A housekeeping committee needs to be formed to be responsible for keeping the club clean and to reorganize the whole space. The club needs to be cleaner and better laid out than it is currently is. This, of course, will require members to step up and lend a hand. Otherwise it will never get done.

4. There needs to be a club librarian/library committee responsible for managing and supervising our great book collection that has been somewhat abused over the past few years. I am afraid that without this kind of attention a great part of our legacy will just fade away.

These are just a few of the points/areas of the club business that I plan on addressing in the forthcoming year if I am elected president of the club. In any case, I would encourage all of you to become involved and to take an active interest in the welfare of the club!

Chris Chase

Monday, October 20, 2008

David Vigorito on his Boylston Chess Club plans

We asked the candidates for Boylston Chess Foundation President for their plans for the club if they were elected. Here are David Vigorito's thoughts and background. Any formatting errors are my fault.
Since returning to New England after ten years in Nevada two and a half years ago, I have been an active participant in BCF events. I have enjoyed playing at the club and deeply appreciate the efforts of the many volunteers who keep the club running smoothly. However, there is always room for improvement and I believe I can help make the club an even better place. I am moving to Somerville and look forward to being able to spend more time at our club. Besides my chess experience, I have an extensive background in sales and marketing that would be beneficial to the club. My main priorities are:

--Working towards increasing coverage of BCF events (tournament reports, news, etc) on the BCF website and blog

--Increasing advertising for BCF tournaments, camps, lectures, and special events

--Improving the financial health of the club – fiscal responsibility and exploration of grants, fundraising, and tournament revenues

--Keeping the club clean and attractive – avoiding the TD room "cafeteria" and raising funds for better chairs in the playing room

--Improving the prestige of the club - incorporating the points above and hosting stronger events

IM David Vigorito
2007 Boylston Chess Club Champion

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Preview-- Blitz vs. Kingfishers

The Boston Blitz must win this week, or their playoff position becomes very tenuous. Right now, with a 3-4 record, they are still in 4th place in the East. If they lose, they will suddenly be tied with New York, a team that had seemed very small in the rearview mirror just two weeks ago.

Right now, the Kingfishers have a terrible record, with just 1.5 points, but a victory on Wednesday will give them playoff hopes again.

Let's take a look at the matchups.

Baltimore Kingfishers (White on 1 & 3) vs the Boston Blitz (White on 2 & 4)
GM Sergey Erenburg: 2592 vs. SM Jorge Sammour-Hasbun: 2576
IM Larry Kaufman: 2424 vs. SM Denys Shmelov: 2446
FM Ray Kaufman: 2348 vs. NM Marc Esserman: 2307
FM Ralph Zimmer: 2328 vs. NM Ilya Krasik: 2144

My bleak predictions-- the Blitz lose on all 4 boards. Sorry, but I'm writing this as I watch the Red Sox get pummeled yet again by former cellar-dwellers, the Tampa Bay Rays. My Boston fandom is bleak at the moment. Seriously, though, let's take a closer look.

Board 1 Sergey Erenburg vs. Sammour-Hasbun. I like seeing Jorge on Board 1 for the Blitz with the Black pieces, especially since GM Larry Christiansen may have suffered some kind of terrible blundering disease of late. Also, Erenburg likes to eat the previous generation of US Champions for lunch in this league. Just check out his two victories over Joel Benjamin, here and here. Erenburg has quietly been putting in a very strong year, and as of Week 7, is Bionic Lime's Silver Medalist for Board 1. He also is at the very top of the Bionic Lime rating list for the USCL. Jorge, for all his skills, is only 20th. Jorge will certainly make it a double-edged game with lots of chances for both sides, but Erenburg gets my nod this week.

Board 2 IM Larry Kaufman vs. Denys Shmelov. Unfortunately for Baltimore, the rest of their players are at the bottom of Bionic Lime's rating list. Kaufman can't seem to find any wins this year. I don't think he will find one this week, either. However, my bleak mood suggests to me that Shmelov also won't find a win this week.

Board 3 Ray Kaufman vs. Marc Esserman. Normally, Baltimore would have no shot at upending the red-hot Marc Esserman on Board 3. They makes things worse by violating the never-have-two-people-with-the-same-last-name-playing-at-the-same-time-on-one-team rule. Furthermore, Marc is in the TOP 10 of Bionic Lime's rating list, and a current Board 3 Bronze medalist. Yet, my dour attitude and massive prognosticating skills suggest something different this week. I predict that Marc is afraid to play as Black this week, since he can't employ the Smith-Morra Gambit. Marc will also be cowed after he finally reads a recent article in the Boston Globe, in which Patrick Wolff annotates his Smith-Morra win against Jayson Lian earlier this year but also directly disses the Smith-Morra and suggests it is only worth playing in childhood. Marc is going to flee, and the time penalties given against the Blitz on Board 3 will keep David Vigorito or Charles Riordan from playing at their best (and without preparation!) Kaufman, as he appears to be doing this year, will make efforts to lose, but loss will elude Ray this week.

Board 4. Zimmer vs. Krasik. Ilya has one thing going for him this week-- he doesn't have the Black pieces, so there is no way he can roll out his rather porous Sicilian Defence this week. Krasik is in the bottom 10 of Bionic Lime's rating list (one notch above Ray Kaufman); Zimmer is not much higher. It is a battle all the way to the bottom. Maybe this board could be invigorated if they are allowed to take all the pieces that their Board 1 teammates capture and place them on their board, in a sort of half-a-game of bughouse. It is clear that Baltimore and Boston are lacking that talented 15 year old that can bring low ratings and spectacular master-class games. We'll just have to settle for what they bring us this week instead -- a 13-4 rout by the opposing team.

Just remember, Boston fans, what happened the last time a team routed us badly in the playoffs. We went on to win 4 in a row against the Yanks and we swept the World Series.

BCF Annual Meeting

BCF Presidential Election October 21, 2008 @ 7pm

The BCF Annual meeting will have election of it's officers and Board of Directors.

After five years of leading the BCF as President Paul MacIntyre is stepping aside to let someone else be President. Paul has done a terrific job in managing things - especially in navigating the migration from Boston to Somerville where he was instrumental in making some very important and difficult decisions. We all thank Paul for the time he sacrificed and effort he put in as President.

Two people have expressed interest in running for President: Chris Chase and David Vigorito. Marc Esserman has expressed interest in running for Vice President. And others have a week to throw their hat into the ring. I expect candidates to present their ideas on how to improve the BCF next Tuesday. And maybe they can submit something to either Jason Rihel or Bob Oresick to be posted on the blog before 10/21?

Presently the club is running slightly in the red and consuming it's surplus cash. The current model of running the BCF has to be slightly adjusted so funds cover its operations. Also we have had a few conflicts with our landlord and need to work some things out in that area.

What ideas do you have that could improve the BCF?

Please Comment

Mike Griffin 10/14/2008

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Chess and Intelligent People

Chess and Intelligent People

Polymath From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: A polymath (Greek polymathēs, πολυμαθής, "having learned much") [1] is a person whose knowledge is not restricted to one subject area. The dictionary definition is consistent with informal use, whereby someone very knowledgeable is described as a polymath when the term is used as a noun, or polymath or polymathic when used as adjectives.

A couple of weeks ago at the $10 open I told a few of my chess buddies that my wife and I intended to fly out to California and visit my son Marc for Thanksgiving, who now lives in Berkeley. And that I intend to visit the chess club at Mechanics Institute [ some photos from the editor's trip to the Mechanics Institute [ ] probably on Tuesday night, as that seems to be a very active evening. People reminded me that former locals Josh Friedel, Steven Brandwein, and Peter Sherwood were regulars at the San Francisco clubSomeone also tossed out the name Ken Rogoff as being somehow associated with the club. I knew Ken was a BCC player in the 70's and was associated with Harvard and economics so it didn't make sense.

Anyways I Googled Ken's name and hit on a great deal of information, including the fact that Ken is an economic adviser to presidential candidate John McCain.Then in a bit of Sienfeldian irony, who is on Jim Lehrer's NewsHour last Wednesday night none other than Ken Rogoff!? Ken did a convincing job in detailing the necessity to support the $700 Billion US economic bailout due to the current financial fiasco.

At the BCF this Saturday there was a Quad, and like any typical tournament there are all types of conversations going on in the skittles room. My good friend Tony Cortizas came by and he relayed to me that Ken Rogoff is avoiding getting back into chess, although a grandmaster, because Ken is fearful of all the time it would consume. As with most days the conversations reached far and wide bridging politics, law, photography, literature, art, history, and many other subjects.

The neat thing is that OTB chess at the BCF attracts some very bright and interesting people and it's a fantastic place to be just to exchange ideas. Nothing more adventuresome than a room packed with polymaths. There isn't a tournament that goes by that I don't leave with new ideas or a better understanding of something.

What are some of your experiences in interacting with chess players?

Please Comment.

Mike Griffin 10/07/2008

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Monday Night: Boston Blitz take on the New York Knights

Before we discuss Monday Night's battle, let us recap last week's Boston Blitz debacle against the cellar dwellers, The Philadelphia Inventors. Kudos are in order, not to a Boston team that struggled on every board, but to Greg Shahade, who has clearly put together a stronger and stronger US Chess League, where any team can win each week.

On Board 1, Jorge Sammour-Hasbun "castled into it", and sought to pawn storm Black's kingside. However, Kudrin ripped open the queenside with a pawn sac while Jorge's plan was still just a glint in his eye. As soon as the lines opened up directly to Jorge's King, the result was hardly in doubt. In the following position, after 19...Be6, White is clearly in big trouble.

Black is about to garner 2nd place Game of the Week Honors.

Clearly, Jorge lives by the sword and dies..... you get the picture.

On Board 2, Vigorito perhaps was still thinking back to his miniature loss to teammate Charles Riordan in the Boylston Chess Club Championship. To understand how short their Monday night encounter lasted, consider that my own Hauptturnier game ended on move 15, after 20 minutes of play. I stood up to watch the club champs, and Charles and David were already gone! At any rate, Vigorito's position collapsed, and with it, any chance of a Blitz victory.

On Board 3, Denys managed to secure a draw... in a two pawn up endgame. To be fair, at that point, the match was already decided in the Inventors favor, and Shmelov had little incentive to play accurately for a win against Costigan.

On Board 4, Krasik got butchered by Bengtson. Needless to say, in the Benko Gambit, if Black doesn't get counterplay for the sluffed pawn, White gets a good position. Given that Bengtson was such an unknown for the Blitz, one must wonder if Krasik's normally good preparation was lacking last week.

Except for Board 4, last week's performance hardly matters, as the Blitz are fielding 3 different players in what I consider to be the 2nd strongest lineup. (What outside viewer would have guessed that a 2 GM lineup would only be Boston's 2nd best? That is just what Jorge brings to the Blitz).

Normally at this time of year, we would be making Yankee-Red Sox analogies, as those teams battled it in the baseball playoffs. However, the Yankees didn't make the playoffs, and the Knights are dangerously far from a playoff berth in the US Chess League this season. With only three matches after this, a loss this week would all but eliminate the Knights from the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Blitz are up and down week to week, beating the top teams then losing to the bottom ones. It just might be enough to make the playoffs, but they cannot afford to lose too many more matches, especially with Queens coming up in the final week.

Let's look at the matchups this week:
(Blitz have white on Boards 1 and 3)

1) GM Larry Christiansen: 2670 vs GM Pascal Charbonneau: 2524
2) GM Eugene Perelshteyn: 2619 vs GM John Fedorowicz: 2540
3) NM Marc Esserman: 2307 vs IM Jay Bonin: 2370
4) NM Ilya Krasik: 2144 vs NM Matthew Herman: 2271

We have a 4 GM battle royale this week, the first time that has happened in the league since the Blitz met the Knights in Week 4 of the 2007 Season! (And I believe only the 2nd time ever).

Board 1) GM Larry Christiansen has white against Blitz slayer GM Pascal Charbonneau. Pascal has performed brilliantly for the Knights (and Kingfishers) many times, winning the 2005 USCL MVP, Game of the Year honors, twice(!), and earning game of the week another two times. However, last year his 2.5/8 record was sub-par, and he has been a non-factor this year, winning a game against the Inventor's Kudrin and losing a game to Miami's GM Becerra. Pascal appears to be a glutton for punishment-- taking Board 1 for the disastrous Knights this week, and starting a job at a hedge fund during the Wall Street fallout.

Still, this week I'll predict that Larry will not end Pascal's reign of terror over the Blitz, and Pascal will pull out yet another demoralizing victory against Boston.

Board 2) Eugene makes his first appearance this year for the Blitz, facing off against the Fed. Eugene recently played in the very strong SPICE Cup and had a middling result. GM Fedorowicz has been unsuccessfully thrown against some of the league's top players, including Nakamura and Stripunsky. Since I can't decide who has been better lately, I'm going to predict a draw.

Board 3) Young up-and-comer Esserman vs. the veteran Bonin. Here is where the Blitz need a win, and I think should expect a win. Although the boston-blitz homepage writers keep pointing to board 4 as volatile , my own quick analysis suggests that Board 3 is where the biggest and most frequent upsets take place. The reason is that Board 3 is where the veterans meet the underrated players and get smacked around. My database has a Bonin-Esserman game from 2003, in which Bonin won, but that was an eternity ago. Bonin has been respectable for the Knights, but this year he has struggled a bit. I'll give Esserman the nod in this one.

Board 4) Only Krasik was suited up for last week's thrashing by the Inventors. Given his volatility, both over the board and over this blog, I can't help but wonder if he can shake off last week's loss and calmly play the Black pieces two weeks in a row. Then again, Herman appears to be an 1.e4 player, so the ill-fated Benko Gambit can't make a second appearance. Also, Herman has not played much for the Knights the past two years. In other tournaments this summer he racked up a very strong result against masters and a not-so-good result. So which Krasik and which Herman will show up tomorrow? The future, it is difficult to see. But, just to be different, let's give Herman the full point against Krasik.

OH NO! For the first time, I am predicting a Blitz loss.... I feel ugly inside.

Tune in Monday Night to see what really happens. It is sure to be fun either way.