Thursday, March 26, 2009

Galleria Florentia Tournament Qualifiers

Rescheduled to May 22


Four players who qualify will play in the Galleria Florentia tournament

on Friday, May 1 at 1:00 pm

a quads with a

$2,500 prize fund.




The winners of the following events qualify for a special tournament to be held at the Galleria Florentia at 79 Newbury Street in Boston on May 1:

  • Saturday, March 28: BCC Legends of Chess: Arnold Denker 4SS; G/65. EF: $27, $17 to BCF members. Two sections: Open & U1800; Prizes: b/entries. Reg: 9:15 – 9:50. Rounds: 10, 12:40, 3:00, 5:10.

Dave Vigorito won the Legends: Denker and so is qualified for the Galleria Forentia tournament.

  • Thursday April 2, 9, 16, 23: Thursday Night Swiss 4SS; 40/90, SD/20. 2 Sections: Open & U1800 Minimun 5 players to have an Open section or these players will roll over under 1800 section: EF: $27, $17 to BCF members. Prizes: $(240) Based on 20 entries: Open $100 2nd $20; U1800 $100 2nd $20. Registration: 6:30 to 6:55. Rd: 7pm.

  • Saturday, April 18: Tornado # 98 4SS G/65. EF: $27, $17 to BCF members. Two sections: Open & Under 1800. Prizes: b/entries. Reg: 9:15 to 9:50; Rds: 10, 12:40, 3, 5:10.

Denys Shmelov won the Tornado 98, 4-0, so he has qualified for the final four.

Second were Ryan McGrady, Marc Esserman and Luis Baez-Rasario 3-0

  • Saturday, April 25: BCC Swiss # 22 4SS; G/65 EF: $27, $17 to BCF members. Two sections: Open & U1800; Prizes: b/entries. Reg: 9:15 – 9:50. Rounds: 10, 12:40, 3:00, 5:10

The four qualifiers will play in the Galleria Florentia tournament on Friday, May 1 at 1:00 pm for a $2,500 prize fund. If a player wins more than one qualifier, then the entry will go to the 2nd place finisher. Tiebreaks will be announced on March 28. For more information, contact Kent Leung at

Chess Nemesis

Chess Nemesis

"Nemesis? That's what my game is missing a chess nemesis!"
Casey Richardson WPI 1998]

A Saturday several years ago, and the usual cast of characters are sitting in the skittles room waiting for round one, when in walks my nemesis: Mikhail Derazhne. Bernardo Iglesias as usual directing this tournament is sitting in the corner at the laptop with phone by his side entering registrants. I always have to call to Bernado when Mikhail arrives. I shout "Bernado pair me with Mikhail!" Up goes a laugh as people have heard this many times. And so it begins.

For about 10 years nothing gave me more pleasure than playing Mikhail. Mikhail learned the fundamentals from his father (his dad once won a class prize at one Herb Healy btw.) Mikhail never concerned himself with the opening but would direct the game past the middlegame and into the endgame where he was not only proficient, he created many upsets by turning losing games into winning, to the consternation of many BCF opponents.

"Nemesis is now often used as a term to describe one's worst enemy, normally someone or something that is the exact opposite of oneself but is also somehow similar. For example, Professor Moriarty is frequently described as the nemesis of Sherlock Holmes."* [ ]

Mikhail always felt that he could find a way to bamboozle his way to win the game. And typically if losing he played down to the bare king, a maneuver that worked for him when facing me in a time scramble where my promoting of a second pawn into queen put Mikhail in stalemate, thus justifying this exercise. Mikhail became the guy you wanted to play and beat, for many others as well.

Always I was armed with special preparation for the next game with Mikhail. Our styles are very contrary. I would try and take Mikhail down early, knowing that it took about 20 moves for him to warm up to a game. I would work really hard to try and get him into an open tactical brawl where the endgame would be far far away. Ideally he would have white, I black. Then 95% of the time we would get into the MacCutcheon variation of the French Defense that had become our battleground of preference; got very nuanced over the years. Both of us would bring various ideas to this battlefield.

But on 09/23/1999 at the Harvard Open Mikhail played the advanced variation and I got to spring my highly non-theoretical Au Bon Pain Variation of the French Defense. Named because I first saw it while watching a blitz game one spring afternoon at the Au Bon Pain in Cambridge. The opening is pure simplicity for black in dealing with the problem white square bishop. Mikhail got the early advantage in a maneuvering game which is to his liking. Although I was a pawn down I turned the game around due to the fact his king was becoming more exposed and my queen got active. Around hour five Mikhail got this idea to take his fleeing king and use it to lead an attack at my king to try and mate?! I sacrificed a pawn to nudge his king to my queenside where I would have a knight with my queen against his lone king, and possibly help from a 2nd knight. That has to mate?! I'm almost out of time (analog clock). We are approaching the sixth hour, it's midnight, he has a few additional minutes. All that is left is adrenalin which is pounding in both of us. He offers a draw, I refuse. I have to have a mate here?! But my flag falls in the attempt.

Mikhail Derazhne 1768 - Mike Griffin 1546 [C02]
Harvard Open, 23.09.1999

1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.e5 Bd7 4.Nf3 a6 5.Bd3 Bb5 6.Nc3 Bxd3 7.Qxd3 c5 8.Be3 c4 9.Qe2 b5 10.0-0 Nc6 11.h3 Nge7 12.Nh4 Nc8 13.Qg4 Nb6 14.f4 g6 15.Nf3 b4 16.Ne2 h6 17.Nh2 a5 18.Qf3 h5 19.Qf2 a4 20.Nf3 Be7 21.Ng5 Na5 22.Bd2 Nc6 23.b3 axb3 24.axb3 Ra3 25.Rxa3 bxa3 26.Ra1 Qa8 27.Nc3 Nb4 28.Nb5 0-0 29.Nxa3 Qc6 30.Qe1 Na6 31.Nb1 Ra8 32.b4 Nc7 33.Rxa8+ Qxa8 34.c3 Qa2 35.Kf2 Nb5 36.Kf3 Na4 37.g4 hxg4+ 38.hxg4 Qc2 39.Kg3 Qd3+ 40.Nf3 Bh4+ 41.Kxh4 Qxf3 42.Kg5 Qd3 43.Qh1 Nc7 44.Kf6 Ne8+ 45.Ke7 Ng7 46.Qc1 g5 47.fxg5 Qg6 48.Qf1 f5 49.exf6 Qe8+ 50.Kd6 Qb8+ 51.Kc6 Qb6+ 52.Kd7 (score unintelligible black loses on time) 1 - 0

Picture (Metafile)

Subsequent Fritz analysis showed there were forcing mates:

A1. Qa7+ 53.Kc6 Ne8 54.f7+ Kf8 55.fxe8Q+ Kxe8 56.Be3 Qd7#
A2. 56.Kd6 Qb8+ 57.Kc6 Qb6#
A3. 56.Kb5 Qb6+ 57.Kxa4 Qa6#

This loss is one of my most memorable and still pains me. Should I have been practical and take the draw against my nemesis: doubtful.

Sad to say Mikhail is no longer active in the USCF, has met a Russian girlfriend, and I recently found out he currently is looking for work in the IT QA software testing field in the Boston area. Das vedanya comrade/Goodbye my friend. Until we meet again. I have something for you.

So now I have to find a new nemesis, so far Mark Kaprielian comes the closest, and our battlefield is the Classical Dutch.

Do you have a chess nemesis and have any funny or interesting stories?

Please Comment.

Thank You

Mike Griffin 03/26/2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

With the Tactical Wizardry of a Squib

The club's annual Paramount tournament grinds along, and it's grinding me along with it. As Sickpuppy Trashtalker, a distant relative of Siegbert Tarrasch, put it, "It is not enough to be a mediocre player, you must also not play like a complete idiot."

In round 2, I reached the following position as White against Larry Eldridge after 16...Qf6:

In the postmortem, Larry remarked that he knew I couldn't play 17 Re1?? because of 17...fxg3, when Black is completely winning. As you might guess from the title of this article, I played 17 Re1??, thinking only that in various vague future positions arising after 17...f3, I wanted to be able to play my g2 bishop to f1.

As Sickpuppy Trashtalker also said, "Before the endgame, the gods have placed some seriously nasty threats on f2 and h2."

Years ago, my friend Woodley Chapman (may he rest in peace) joked that I could see 3 moves out, but I couldn't see the very next move. He didn't know that sometimes I could even see several games ahead:

In 1998 I played in the 5-round Harry Lyman Open, whose first game was Friday night, with the rest on Saturday and Sunday. In round 1, I had White against Alex Berlin, and was up a pawn in the following position after 44...Qc1:

I felt like I was in pretty good form, and was already looking forward to turning in a good performance in my section for the weekend, with a shot at some prize.

By threatening 46 Qh6+ Kg8 47 Nf6 mate, I planned to force the queens off and "win the pawn up ending". I played 45 Qd2?? and found myself on the wrong side of things after 45...Qg1 mate.

"D'oh!" was made for chess players.

In 1988, long before widespread use of clocks with time-delay/time-increment, I played in a Boylston Chess Club Action Open (Game/30) tournament. It was my move as White in the following position against Jay Allen after 27...Ne2:

My opponent was desperately looking forward to my making any move that would allow 28...Ng3+! 29 hxg3 Rh6 mate.

With my squib-tastic tactical eye, I was totally oblivious to that danger. However, after pondering my move for a while, I suddenly had some new insight, and made my reply:

"You're down."

Take that, Death Eaters!


Sunday, March 22, 2009

Good turnout for the March $10 Open

1797 $10 gold coins with the 'Small eagle'
aka the 'Big Rodan' ??

Saturday's $10 Open drew 35 players, proving again that players like to pay more for lunch than the entry fee.

In the 25 member Open Section, Chris Chase and Amion Chinodakufa shared 1st and 2nd with 3.5 of 4.0, and $100 each. Amion had played only 11 previous USCF games with a rating of 2139. The four games at the Boylston pushed him to 2215 p 14. Does that make him a provisional national master?

In the U1800 Richard Kahn with 3.5 won sole first and $75. Second place (and $20 each) was claimed by Darell Rose, John Watters, and Parag Mujumdar. Parag has now played a total of 7 rated games and has a rating of 1390. Nice.

Palin Gambit loses to My Girl is Pissed

The Palin Gambit faltered (3-1) in the playoff. I haven't heard yet who won the ultimate playoff. Congratulations Paul, Brian, Libardo, and Alan for a fine achievement.

Tony Cortizas sent some good photos from Church St. in Cambridge.

South: My Girl is Pissed vs. East: Palin Gambit: I can See Checkmate from My House
Bruci Lopez vs.
Paul MacIntyre
Bian Hulse
vs. Ernesto Alvarez
Gil Luna vs.
Libardo Rueda
Alan Price
vs. Makaio Krienke

North: Jimmy Runs Deep vs. West: ACA Beasts
Jim Dean vs. John Bryant
Michael Yee vs. Garrett Smith
Drew Hollinberger vs. Vincent Huang
Santy Wong vs. Danny Gater

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Return Of Edwin Korir

KENYAN CHESS BLOG by Edwin korir
“The Pin is mightier than the sword”(Fred Reinfeld)

A look at the day to day activities in Kenyan chess.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Return Of Edwin Korir
Through thick and thin, through marauding militias and blood thirsty janja weed, from desert storms to to desert ovens from Kenya to Sudan and everything in between.

Hello Kenya for the past few months I have not posted a blog entry but for very good reasons.

I was in the Sudan on a peace keeping mission.

Now in a place called Rumbek where electricity has never been discovered the internet is as alien as planet mongo.

Chess news was had to come by and so I hear Anand is world champion!

What about the local scene, well it seems from what I can gather from the Kenya chess forum that the same old ‘beef’ is going on.

But I played chess in the Sudan with a couple of patzers I was with and a UN worker from Lithuania who was extremely good.

But the biggest part was trying to buffer Dafur from attacks by the Janja weed militia a modern day reincarnation of the 1800’s Madhi.

It seems I have been in a time warp although I have gone through quite a number of my favorite websites to get updated e.g. chessbase, chessninja, chesscafe, London chess club, chesszone and thechessdrum....

Read the rest of this post and the blog at
Dave Glickman noticed this post and suggested we might find it interesting.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Chess Networking and the Recession

Chess Networking and The Recession

The most telling effect about this current recession is the huge decline of traffic on the expressway every weekday morning indicating that there are far fewer people going to work every morning. Part of this could also be attributed to the shift by people to use mass transit in spite of fuel costs dropping.

Chessplayers may not know it, but job loss due to consolidation and recession has already caused people to spend more time playing chess or in contributing more of their time for the betterment of the game. Out of respect I'm not going to name names, but I can see that the recession is improving BCF and Mass chess.

This has happened in past recessions as well, as people have more time on their hands and want to invest it in areas that do not consume many resources but provide relaxation and solace. As mentioned before, Harry Lyman and Myer Edelstein found ways to lighten the mental load recessions bring and found ways to keep people occupied (see below). Weekly we hear former BCC member Grandmaster Ken Rogoff of Harvard speaking on WGBH & NPR giving opinion and making economic recommendations.

Experts now say that personal networking is essential in getting that next job. But it is the "remote connection" not the immediate family member that is more likely to create a new job opportunity. And because most chess players tend to be nerdy knowledge workers, many working in similar areas, I ask that you reach out and let other chessplayer comrades know what you do and if you are in need of a job.

I think if we all spend a little effort on this we can make life for our chess buddies better and improve the economy in general as well. So let's do a little more than be outraged; it's water under the dam. Lets become a little more aware of what is going on with our chess brothers and pass information on if we can help. As C.J.S. Purdy said: Success sometimes comes from just looking around. Invest some time in networking and looking for opportunities and pass that information on. Perhaps Ken could change the economic karma if he came back to chess?

What are some of your ideas about networking? Do you have any good examples from the past?

Please Comment

Thank You

Mike Griffin


The 2009 U.S. Amateur Team Playoffs

The 2009 U.S. Amateur Team Playoffs will be played over the Internet on Saturday, March 21st (tomorrow). The location will be the First Parish Church, 3 Church Street, located right in Harvard Square on the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Church Street.

We are planning to set up a projector so that at least one of the games will always appear on a screen, and there will be some seating in the room whose total occupancy is something like 80.

There won't be any boards set up (it's oddly against the rules); players will be playing on laptops.

Please feel free to stop by to spectate: it's free, but donations are appreciated if you'd care to give to help defray our expenses.

Play begins at 1:00 p.m. The time control is G/90 with a 30 second increment.

In the first match, the East will play the South and the West will play the North. If we (the East) win our first match, another match at the same time control will be played against the winner of the match between the West and North.
Here are the team lineups for the first match:

South vs. East

Bruci Lopez vs. Paul MacIntyre
Brian Hulse vs. Ernesto Alvarez
Gil Luna vs. Libardo Rueda
Alan Price
vs. Makaio Krienke

North vs. West

Jim Dean vs. John Bryant
Michael Yee vs. Garrett Smith
Drew Hollinberger vs. Vincent Huang
Santy Wong vs. Danny Gater

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Chess on Jeopardy! last night

On Monday night's edition of Jeopardy!, Tournament of Champions, they had a category called,

"Let's talk about chess, champ".

The questions were far more sophisticated than I would have expected, albeit simple enough for the chess initiated. What impressed me was they used a combination of visuals and algebraic notation to pose the questions.

Here are the questions, as my memory serves:

1. In the following position, although White is up two pawns, he cannot win because these pieces can only move on the diagonals of opposite color.

2. This two word phrase, which means 'in passing', is used to describe a move in which one pawn captures another pawn that has just moved past it.

3. Although White has an extra piece, White failed to win the game after moving the queen to the d6 square, creating this. (Posed as a video with an actor moving the queen to d6 on a chess board)

4. This defence, which starts with the moves 1. e4 e6 is named after a Paris team that employed it in a match.

5. In the following position, the White knight is unable to move because it would expose the king to check. The knight is said to be in this kind of tactical situation, named for a small object.

The players had a hard time, missing both the first question (!) and the 4th question, which was the only one my wife BJ hadn't learned through osmosis from me. She actually believed me for a change when I exclaimed, "Bet it ALL!"
By the way, I hate the new Jeopardy! set and final music.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

By Alex Cherniack

I drew an interesting Rook ending at this year’s Amateur Team Championships East last month in Parsippany, New Jersey. Our team in round 5 had made it behind the vaunted “ropes” (where the top 10 boards play). I was White against Travis Patay:

Cherniack-Patay, USATE 2009

This position is a draw, but Black needs to be alert and careful.

44… Kg8 45. f5

Because of this wedge, I have faint winning chances. If I can land my King on the g6 square, then Black’s position will be critical.

45…b4 46. h3 b3 47. axb3 Rxb3 48. Kh2 Kf7 49. Rc6 Ra3 50. Rb6 Rc3 51. g4 Ra3 52. Re6 Rc3 53. Kg2 Ra3 54. Rb6

I was obliged to play on, since my team was down 2-1. I made several fluttering Rook moves in the hope of catching my opponent unawares.

54…Rc3 55. Rd6 Ra3 56. h4

56. Rg6 Ra2+ 57. Kg3 Ra3+ 58. Kh4 Rb3 gets White nowhere.

56... Ra4 57. Kf3


All my distracting Rook moves paid off. 57... h5 is an instant draw.

58. Ke4 Rh3?

And now my opponent is in serious trouble. 58... Ra1 59. g5 Re1+ 60. Kf4 hxg5+ 61. hxg5 Rf1+ draws without difficulty.

59. Rd7+ Kf6 60. g5+! hxg5 61. Rd6+! Kf7 62. hxg5 Rh1 63. Rd7+ Kf8

White is winning. Black can’t stop my King from moving to h5 and then g6.

64. Rd3 Re1+ 65. Re3 Ra1 66. Kf4 Ra4+ 67. Re4 Ra5 68. Kg4 Kf7 69. Rb4 Ra3 70. Rb7+ Kg8 71. Kh5 Ra6

The critical position.

72. Re7?

After this game I consulted the book Fundamental Chess Endings by Karsten Müller and Frank Lamprecht, and I am shamelessly borrowing their analysis here in wholesale fashion. They cover this position on pp.207-8, where they examine in depth the game Heissler-Pezerovich, Bundesliga 1999. White has a beautiful win with 72. Rb8+ Kf7 73. g6+ Ke7 74. Rg8 Kf6 75. Rf8+ Ke5

76. f6!! Rxf6 77. Rf7! Rf5+ (77... Ke6 78. Rxg7 +-) 78. Kg4 Rf6 79. Kg5 Ra6 80. Rxg7 +-.

White still has a win after 72.Re7, but it is much more complicated.

72... g6+

73. fxg6?

Now the game is a draw. Müller and Lamprecht demonstrate a win here as follows:

73. Kh6! gxf5+ 74. g6 Kf8 75. Rb7 Ra1 76. Rb8+ Ke7 77. g7 Rh1+ 78. Kg6 Rg1+ 79. Kh7 Rh1+ 80. Kg8 Rg1 (80... f4 81. Rb7+ Ke6 (81... Ke8 82. Rb4 f3 83.Re4+ Kd7 84. Rf4 +-) 82. Kf8 Rg1

83. Rb5! – this is what I missed during the game +-) 81. Rb5 Kf6 (81... f4 82. Rf5 Rg4 83. Kh7 Rh4+ 84. Kg6 Rg4+ 85. Kh6 Rh4+ (85... Ke6 86. Rxf4) 86. Kg5 Rh1 87. Rxf4 +-) 82. Rb6+ Kg5 (82... Ke7 83. Kh7 +-; 82... Ke5 83. Kf7 f4 84. Rg6+-) 83. Kf7 Kh5 84. Rb1 Rg2 85. g8=Q Rxg8 86. Kxg8 f4 87. Kf7 Kg4 88. Ke6 and White wins.

What makes this draw so galling is that I had just finished reading this book’s chapter on Rook endgames before traveling to Parsippany! I remembered at the board that this position was very promising (if not winning), but couldn’t reproduce the exact sequence of moves in my head. I won’t have that problem after this game…

73... Ra1 74. g7 Rh1+ 75. Kg6 Rh6+! 76. Kf5

I can’t take the Rook of course, but here I foolishly thought that it had nothing better than to return to h1, where I thought the win was in hand after 76…Rh1 77.Kf6 Rf1+ 78.Kg6 Rf6+ 79.Kxf6, and there is no stalemate. However, after the really obvious


White has diddlysquat.

77. Kg4 Rg6 78. Kf5 Ra6 79. Rb7 Rc6 80. Kg4 Rg6 81. Kh5 Rc6 82. Rd7 Rb6 83. Ra7 Rc6 84. Re7 Ra6 85. Kg4 Rg6 86. Re8+

What else?

86…Kxg7 87. Kf5 Ra6 88. Re7+ Kg8 89. Rb7 Rc6 90. g6 Rc1!

The classic Philidor defense.

91. Kf6 Rf1+ 92. Kg5 Rg1+

And here, with 3 minutes left on my clock, I offered my opponent a draw, and our team was bounced outside the sacred ropes at Parsippany. Oh well.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Humans no match for Go bots

Humans No Match for Go Bot Overlords

By Brandon Keim

Wired Science, March 10, 2009 7:10:18 PM

Categories: Artificial Intelligence, Brain and Behavior, Cognition, Games

For the last two decades, human cognitive superiority had a distinctive sound: the soft click of stones placed on a wooden Go board.

But once again, artificial intelligence is asserting its domination over gray matter. Just a few years ago, the best Go programs were routinely beaten by skilled children, even when given a head start. Artificial intelligence researchers routinely said that computers capable of beating our best were literally unthinkable. And so it was. Until now.

"It's a silly human conceit that such a domain would exist, that there's something only we can figure out with our wetware brains," said David Doshay, a University of California at Santa Cruz computer scientist. "Because at the same time, another set of humans is just as busily saying, 'Yes, but we can knock this problem into another domain, and solve it using these machines.'"

In February, at the Taiwan Open — Go's popularity in East Asia roughly compares to America's enthusiasm for golf — a program called MoGo
beat two professionals. At an exhibition in Chicago, the Many Faces program beat another pro. The programs still had a head start, but the trend is clear. Arrayed by opposing players trying to capture space on its lined 19x19 grid, the black and white Go stones can end a game in 10171 possible ways — about 1081 times more configurations than there are elementary particles in the known universe.

Faced with such extraordinary complexity, our brains somehow find a path, navigating the possibilities using mechanisms only dimly understood by science. Both of the programs that have recently defeated humans used variations on mathematical techniques originally developed by Manhattan Project physicists to coax order from pure randomness.

Called the
Monte Carlo method, it has driven computer programs to defeat ranking human players six times in the last year. That's a far cry from chess, the previous benchmark of human cognitive prowess, in which Deep Blue played Garry Kasparov to a panicked defeat in 1997, and Deep Fritz trounced Vladimir Kramnik in 2006. To continue the golf analogy, computer Go programs beat the equivalents of Chris Couch rather than Tiger Woods, and had a multi-stroke handicap. But even six victories was inconceivable not too long ago, and programmers say it won't be long before computer domination is complete.

There is, however, an asterisk to the programs' triumphs. Compared to the probabilistic foresight of our own efficiently configured biological processor — sporting 1015 neural connections, capable of 1016 calculations per second, times two — computer Go programs are inelegant. They rely on what Deep Blue designer Feng-Hsiung Hsu
called the "substitution of search for judgment." They crunch numbers.

"People hoped that if we had a strong Go program, it would teach us how our minds work. But that's not the case," said
Bob Hearn, a Dartmouth College artificial intelligence programmer. "We just threw brute force at a program we thought required intellect."

If only we knew what our own brains were doing.
Inasmuch as human Go prowess is understood, it's explained in terms of pattern recognition and intuition. "When there are groups of stones arranged in certain ways, you can build visual analogies that work very well. You can think, 'This configuration radiates influence to that part of the board' — and it turns out it's a useful concept," said Hearn. "The revolutionary people in the field have an intuitive sense, and can look at things completely differently from other people."

Image-based neuroscience supports this explanation, albeit vaguely. When researchers led by University of Minnesota cognitive neuroscientist Michael Atherton
scanned the brains of people playing chess and compared them to Go-playing brains, he found heightened activation in the Go players' parietal lobes, a region responsible for processing spatial relationships. But these observations, said Atherton, were rudimentary. "The higher-level stuff, we didn't figure out," he said. .
In a more recent brain-scanning study, Japanese researchers
compared professional and amateur Go players as they contemplated opening- and end-stage moves. Both displayed parietal lobe activity. During the end stages, however, professionals had extremely high activity in their precuneus and cerebellum regions, where the brain integrates a sense of space with our bodies and motions.

Put another way, professionals fuse their consciousness into the decision tree of the game.
Go players have an ability "to think creatively and prune the search tree in an aesthetic sense," said Atherton. "They have a feel for the game."

Artificial intelligence researchers historically tried to harness this pattern-based approach, however poorly understood, to their Go programs. It wasn't easy. "When I've talked to Go professionals about how they come to their decisions, it's been difficult for them to describe why a move is right," said Doshay at UCSC, who designed a Go computer program called
SlugGo. "Go is a game of living things, and you talk about it that way, as if the patterns might be alive."

But if turning cryptic statements from Go masters into working algorithms for determining the statistical health of game patterns was impossible, there didn't seem to be any other way of doing it. "It was possible to sidestep the cognitive issues by throwing brute force at chess," said Hearn, "but not at Go."

Compared to the challenge posed to a Go program, Deep Blue's computations — possible moves in response to a move, carried 12 cycles into the future — are back-of-the-napkin scribblings. "If you look at the game trees, there's about 30 possible moves you can make from a typical position. In Go, it's about 300. Right away, you get exponential scaling," said Hearn.

With every anticipated move, the possibilities continue to scale exponentially — and unlike chess, where captured pieces are counted immediately, Go territory can switch hands until the game's end. Running a few branches down the tree is useless: take one step, and it needs to be pursued, exponential scale by scale, until the game end.

According to Doshay,

the number of Go's end-states — 10171 — is almost inconceivably smaller than the 101100 different ways of getting there. Without patterns to eliminate whole swaths of choices from the outset, computers simply can't cope with it, at least not within time frames contained by the universe's remaining existence. .

But to Doshay, guiding computers with human-rules patterns was wrong from the beginning.
"If you want computers to do something well, you concentrate on the ways computers do things well," he said. "Computers can generate enormous quantities of random numbers very rapidly."
Enter the Monte Carlo method, named by its Manhattan Project pioneers for the casinos where they gambled. It consists of random simulations repeated again and again until patterns and probabilities emerge: the characteristics of an atomic bomb explosion, phase states in quantum fields, the outcome of a Go game. Programs like MoGO and Many Faces simulate random games from start to finish, over and over and over again, with no concern for figuring out which of any given move is best.

"At first, I was dismissive," said Hearn. "I didn't think there was anything to be gained from random playouts." But the programmers had one extra trick: they crunched the accumulated statistics, too. Once a few million random games are modeled, probabilities take form. Thus informed, the programs devote extra processing power to promising branches, and less power to less-promising alternatives.

The resulting game style looks human, but aside from a few rough human heuristics, the patterns articulated by our intuitions are unnecessary.

"The surprising, mysterious thing to me is that these algorithms work at all," said Hearn. "It's very puzzling."

Puzzling it might be, but the game is almost over. Hearn and others say that, having started to beat human professionals, Monte Carlo-based programs will only get better. They'll incorporate the results of earlier games to their heuristic arsenal, and within a few years — a couple decades at the most — be able to beat our best.

What is the larger significance of this? When computers finally triumphed at chess, the world was shocked. To some, it seemed that human cognition was less special than before. But to others, the competition is an illusion.After all, behind every machine is the hand that made it.

"There's a strong tendency in humans to have a conceit about how far we've advanced," said Doshay. "But we've only really started programming computers."


1. Flickr/Sigurdga

2. David Doshay, with a 24-CPU Go-playing cluster. He's since expanded it to 72 CPUs running multiple Go modules. One module, still under development, is patterned after his Go teacher.

See Also:
Supercomputers Break Petaflop Barrier, Transforming Science
I See Your Petaflop and Raise You 19 More
Mouse Versus Supercomputer: No Contest
Brandon Keim's Twitter stream and feed; Wired Science on Facebook.

Boylston well-represented at the Eastern Class

Boylston Chess Foundation members and players were well-represented at the 18th Eastern Class in Sturbridge, March 6-8.

200 players competed! Congratulations to all!

Masters [27 players]
1st 4.0 Marc Esserman 2462

......4.0 GM Dalmen Sadvakasov 2618

Read Chris Bird's coverage of the Eastern Class on the US Chess site.

It begins:

In weekend Swiss tournaments, so often the final round is anticlimactic with the top board, and one or two others, agreeing to peacefully end their weekend and secure some prize money for their efforts. The CCA's Eastern Class Championships held in the old rural village of Sturbridge, Massachusetts, this past weekend, March 6-8, was anything but your typical finish. It produced one of the most thrilling conclusions to a tournament I have had the pleasure to watch.

2nd 3.5 Denys Shmelov 2450

.......3.5 GM Serge Kudrin 2616

Experts [32 players]
1st 4.5 Jason Spector 2154

[Jason studies at Bowdoin and has been Chess Champion of Maine for 2007 and 2008.]
......4.5 Dan Rozovsky
2nd 4.0 James Nitz 2113

Class A [36 players] 1st 4.5 Embert Lin 1886

Class B [48 players]
1st 5.0 Robert Denunzio 1870

2nd 4.0 Grant Xu 1812
.......4.0 Thomas Hilton 1801
.......4.0 Julio Echevara 1788
.......4.0 Neil Fachon 1781
.......4.0 Kevin Berry 1746

Class C [30 players] 1st 4.5 Richard Chang 1664

Class D [19 players] 1st 4.5 Catherine Ryan 1472

Class E [23 players] 1st 4.0 Brian Eibert 1180, Zachary Coombs 1176, William Klein 1161

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

10th annual Paramount 2009 underway

The ten-round double round-robin Paramount is underway for the 10th year. Initiated by Bryan Clark, this format [generous time control with two try's against known opponents bunched in competive groups] remains popular. This year there are 4 groups of 6 players, a record I think. Wallcharts after the each round will be posted on the news/crosstable page of the Boylston site.

TD Oresick Robert
assistant TD Iglesias Bernardo

group 1
Player # 1: Chase Chris 2366
Player # 2: Salomon Brian 2077
Player # 3: Clayton Kyle 1852
Player # 4: Glickman David 1989
Player # 5: Portugues Ruben 1856
Player # 6: Konovalchuk Nikita 1809

group 2
Player # 1: Felker Paul 1807
Player # 2: Driscoll Walter 1829
Player # 3: Eldridge Larry 1798
Player # 4: Lee Jonathan 1638
Player # 5: Ho Kenneth 1742
Player # 6: Dondis Harold 1678

group 3
Player # 1 Holmgren Robert 1665
Player # 2 Frazier Frank 1634
Player # 3 Clark Henry 1621
Player # 4 Cortizas Anthony 1593
Player # 5 Lieberman Seth 1583
Player # 6 Sadykov Khikmet 1575

group 4
Player # 1 Fletcher Adam 1569
Player # 2 Oresick Robert 1499
Player # 3 Scali Anthony 1388
Player # 4 Gorczyca Thaddeus 1363
Player # 5 Bromberg Daniel 1241
Player # 6 Rose Darell 1237

Chess and the Battle of Kursk

Chess and the Battle of Kursk


Event Date(s) 2006-04-01 thru 2006-04-02


Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...

Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...


Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...

My clock was ticking

Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...

Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...


Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...

Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick .
My clock was ticking

Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...

Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...


Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...

My clock was ticking
[Note: fans of the epic poem Gilgamesh will love the chorus - the rest can skip reading the "ticks"- MG]
I went into the skittles room to eat an apple to ramp up my depleted blood sugars at a critical point against then US 11th Grade Champ: newly titled Master Chris Williams (then 2249). I have a much better position than him, winning in fact. Amidst the din of the skittles room was a discussion about World War II. A young man just had declared that D Day was the turning point of the war that it was all down hill for Hitler and Germany after the invasion. Two older gentlemen from the former Soviet Union jumped in simultaneously that it was the Soviets who had defeated Germany, taken the biggest losses, and Stalingrad turned the war around. Back and fourth the argument went.......I ate my apple............

Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...

Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...


Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...

My clock was ticking My family has a genetic predisposition to get entangled in debates about The T/Mass Transportation, Privatization, and World War II. So I stepped in, had to: The Soviet Union turned the war, but you are both wrong it was the battle of Kursk that did Germany in. Although the 6th army was defeated in Stalingrad, and many Germans were killed and captured................

.Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick..

.Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...


Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...

My clock was ticking And I have forgotten about this fact.
.....................Following Stalingrad, Germany still had enough resources in the Eastern Front to wage a good war if Hitler allowed Field Marshal von Manstein to go wide of Soviet strength and fight a delaying retreating war against the Soviets that taxed the Soviet supply lines but instead.....and....the artillery the greatest since the Somme..............Germany gambled it all at Kursk and lost in the biggest tank battle ever............were lucky Hitler was so dumb.....

Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...

Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...


Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick ...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...Tick...

My clock was ticking And I have just remembered this fact. Segue to two weeks before this game:...........................
This was in my d4 days: Chris Williams quietly comes up to me and says that he and his coach Larry Christiansen looked at my response to the Slav and it wasn't very good because black a good game. It was nice for Chris to take time out and warn me. I think he did this because during his very early days I showed him how he should play against the French Defense. (hint to old timers: kids don't forget who helped them on their way up). I thanked Chris for the info but responded well if you do that ......tell Larry then there's this......I think I'm fine.
Segue to 1 1/2 hours ago: ...............
Today I sat down with white against Chris, we looked each other in the eye, shook hands, both know theory was about to become reality.Opening phase: interesting enough we both deviated from our discussion.

Mike Griffin 1714 - Chris Williams 2249
[D10] BCC Spring Open, 02.04.2006
1.d4 d5 2.c4 c6 3.Nc3 Nf6 4.Bg5 Ne4 5.Nxe4 dxe4 6.Qd2 g6 7.e3 Bg7 8.Ne2 0-0 9.h4 Nd7 10.Nc3 f5 11.0-0-0 h6 12.Bf4 Qa5 13.Kb1 e5 14.dxe5 Nxe5 15.Nxe4 Qb6 16.c5 Qc7 17.Qd6 Qf7 18.Ng5 hxg5 19.Bxe5 Be6 20.Bxg7 Rfd8 21.Qxd8+ Rxd8 22.Rxd8+ Kxg7 23.hxg5 f4

Here is where I took almost 1/2 an hour debating Kursk. Chris Williams didn't not budge one inch working his butt off trying to find resources in a difficult losing position. I went back to my game and made an awful move Bd3 when Rdh8 would have been a killer. But I was basically out of time..

24.Bd3 Qe7 25.Rdh8 Bg8 26.exf4 Qxc5 27.R8h6 Bf7 28.g4 Qd5 29.Rh7+ Kf8 30.Rh8+ Ke7 31.Re1+ Kd7 32.Re3 Qxa2+ 33.Kc1 Qa1+ 34.Bb1 Ba2 35.Rh7+ Kd6 36.Rd3+ Kc5 37.Rc3+ Kb6 0-1.

[ Editors note: it is a little known fact that the battle of Kursk was almost lost because some tank drivers delayed joining the battle, because they were analyzing a chess postion from the Slav.]

The following week Chris Chase read me the riot act: "Mike you have got to work hard at this game....."
Jesse Nicholas and Lior Rozhansky and I discuss a potential way they could make some lunch money by approaching some of my opponents and for a fee, say $5.00, get me involved in a WW II arguments in the skittles room while my game is in progress.Have you ever lost a game because of being sidetracked during a tournament?


Please comment. Thank you.

Mike Griffin

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Chess and undistributed wisdom as compared to distributed wisdom

Chess and undistributed wisdom as compared to distributed wisdom

Pink Floyd's Another Brick in the Wall

In Malcolm Gladwell's book Tipping Point he talks about how family siblings specialize in certain area's of responsibilities taking ownership of certain skills. This was certainly the case in my family where my two boys Mike and Marc took over our Windows for Workgroup (ver 3.11) computer network. Their complementary style has earned them two positions at the corporation BioRad where they continue to have a certain shorthand when working together having specialized in different areas of knowledge.

This week at my job in IT I realized how specialized people have become in computer technology. There was a time in the early 1980's when I mastered everything there was to know about the IBM System 3. My favorite personal title was "IT Utility Infielder". But today it takes a team of IT people to do most projects because things are now so complex and areas of expertise are so narrow. Wisdom is distributed among many people. And when someone leaves the organization you realize that there are gaps until the replacement or the team covers the missing gaps.

Standards, especially International Standards like ISO, along with technical certifications like Microsoft MCSC "tool" an individual's head to think within boundaries and "tune" communication in a way that is understood by colleagues. Professionally, we are all becoming a brick in the wall; this is contrary to the old days when job descriptions in many cases were self defining and not standard. Yet this made it difficult to replace people and difficult for people to move. Globalization would not be successful unless we world citizens could communicate in the same terms about design, manufacturing, testing, acceptance, service, and logistics. This has lead to the commodization of the most complex goods, services, and employees from blue collar to knowledge workers. Our dependence upon infrastructural and logistic systems for delivery of food, shelter, clothing, utilities runs unnoticed except in a disaster when you realize that most pipelines have a maximum of four days supply.

Chess is contrary to these phenomenon: regardless of your support system when you sit down at the board to play a game you have only yourself to depend on. In spite of the 1600 years of group wisdom mankind has provided, you are on you own when playing a game. Elimination of the adjournments has ended all outside help while a game is in progress. This self reliance is kind of cool in such an integrated existence and makes a chess game a very special experience. When compared to above, chess is very contrary to most things in life.

Can you think of other situations in the world where ultimately the individual is self reliant in their actions and must be in command of as much as possible wisdom as possible in order to be successful?

Please Comment.

Thank You.

Mike Griffin


Monday, March 02, 2009

Ride needed to the Eastern Class Championships in Sturbridge

Editor's note: a message from Jacob Chudnovsky (of Harvard, California, and now of MIT; 2384)

Sorry to bother you out of the blue, but I have a chess question, and you are the only chess player / organizer I know in Boston whose contact info I was able to find online.

I’m planning to play in the Eastern Class Championships in Sturbridge this upcoming weekend, and I’d like to find a group of people going from Boston that I could carpool with.

Particularly with the bad conditions this week, carpooling seems like a good idea.

I was actually going to post this request on the Boylston Chess Club blog, but I couldn’t find any thread that sounded even remotely related, and I didn’t want to just highjack a thread for my personal needs. :)

Do you have any thoughts on this? Do you know of a message board where I could post asking if people would like to commute back and forth to the tournament together?

Any info and/or advice would be appreciated.

Thanks a lot,

chudnovs at

Tonight's Paramount Registration and Round are Cancelled due to the Storm

Because of the storm and hazardous driving conditions, the Boylston's

Paramount registration and first round

for Monday, March 2,

has been postponed.

We will start the Paramount on Monday, March 9.

If you want to preregister, send your name to