Monday, December 30, 2013

Chess for Chicago's youth

I've read a string of wonderful stories in the last week about young Chicago-area players making their mark on their chessboard:
  • The Pan-American Intercollegiate Team Chess Championship is winding up today in Lubbock, Texas. Most of the young masters on the University of Illinois team are from the Chicago area. Today, the "walk-ons" play a much stronger team from Texas Tech (international players on chess scholarships!) to try to return to the Final Four of chess for a second consecutive year. Please join me in wishing Eric Rosen, Michael Auger, Xin Luo, and Akshay Indusekar the best of luck today! By the time you read this, you may be able to see whether the Illini qualified.
  • David Peng of Wilmette (whose coach is Grandmaster Dmitry Gurevich of Chicago) just won a silver medal in the World Under-10 Championship in Al-‘Ain, United Arab Emirates. Who won the gold medal in the same section? Awonder Liang of Wisconsin, who often studies with Chicago grandmasters.
  • And just a couple of weeks ago, Sam Schmakel of Chicago's Whitney Young High School won his fifth national scholastic title. For this accomplishment, Sam was featured in yesterday's New York Times.
I've played tournament games against six of these seven young people, and have analyzed with the seventh.  I feel honored to know them!

So chess in Chicago must be doing wonderfully, no? Not according to Dylan Loeb McClain, the author of the Schmakel feature:
Schmakel's school, Whitney Young High, is a magnet school that is part of the Chicago public school system and is where Michelle Obama graduated. It was the only representative at the K–12 Championships from the city, which is not known as a chess stronghold. More students are enrolled in scholastic chess programs and are sent to tournaments across the country from schools in New York, which sends more teams to competitions than any other city; Miami; Seattle; Portland, Ore.; and even Brownsville, Tex.
It is unusual for a city as large as Chicago, with 2.7 million people, to have only one school enter a tournament as prestigious as the K–12 Championships. By comparison, Los Alamos, N.M., population 18,000, also sent one school.
It helps to go to a great magnet school. It helps to have parents who are willing to make financial sacrifices in order to give their children the opportunity to succeed. But most of the talented young people in our city won't be admitted to Whitney Young. And many of their parents would love to give their children greater opportunities but are barely making ends meet.

In my last fundraising pitch, I also asked for financial assistance to send teams from two Chicago West Side schools to the same Florida event at which Sam Schmakel won his fifth title. In the end, the schools could not accept the money that several kind people (including a CPS administrator) pledged. The airfares jumped in price as the deadline approached, and the trip was called off.

Could these kids have succeeded at Nationals? Of course they could have: the team from Faraday Elementary, which draws its students from some of the most dangerous neighborhoods on the West Side, just finished third in a December 14 Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago event.

The Chicago Chess Center does not want to turn children away because their parents can't afford to pay us. Please help us open our doors: please help us help them.

DonateNow


Speaking only for myself, I don't have very much interest in turning young players into grandmasters. It matters more to me that one of my former students is a freshman at an Ivy League school than his having earned an International Master norm. Chess is a fun way to teach critical thinking skills, the skills that turn kids into high achievers.

Children don't get to choose how much money their parents have, and they don't get to choose the neighborhood they are raised in. We want to be there for all of these children, but we can't do it without your support.

We are fortunate to have GMs Dmitry Gurevich, Yury Shulman, Nikola Mitkov and Mesgen Amanov on our advisory board, which also includes leaders from Chicago's nonprofit and business community.

My friend and fellow board member Dave Ducat made a compelling pitch on Facebook the other day. I can't improve on it, so I'll steal Dave's words:

Of course you're thinking that this is Chicago and that there has to be such a place already . . . an actual "Chicago Chess Center" somewhere . . . right?
Nope.
There is no physical "Chicago Chess Center" location in the city, and there hasn't been one within the city limits for over 20 years. Cities like St. Louis and Dallas have developed premier chess clubs, have set the new standard and have seen their international exposure and tourism increased over the last three to five years. I want that for Chicago. I want Chicago to become the center for chess in the United States, and I want it to set the example for other cities to follow.
I need your help to make the Chicago Chess Center a reality. I need your financial contributions to create a physical location, centralized and within easy access of public transportation, so that chess-playing people of all ages, all walks of life, and all neighborhoods in and around the city can have a place to call their own. I need your help to shape the future of chess in Chicago and shape it with our youth in mind.
When the CCC was founded, the board put together a campaign to raise $30,000 within a year to fund the acquisition, furnishing and rent of a suitable space to call the Chicago Chess Center. To date, through tireless solicitation by the board of directors as well as through key personal and corporate investments [...], we've been able to raise over half that amount [we're now over $18,000—BB]. It's my hope that you can find a few dollars to contribute to this worthy cause and help the CCC reach its goal of opening the doors of a new location in early 2014. We need your support to make this happen.
Please take a moment to review our website and click the "Donate Now" button. Please consider a donation of $50; however, any amount will be gratefully accepted. For the price of one latte a day for one week, you can make a lasting contribution to a worthwhile cause and help us achieve our mission.
Bill again.  Without your financial support, we may not be able to fulfill our mission. And we are so close to opening our doors . 

Please make your tax-deductible year-end donation now. Thank you for caring.

Bill Brock
Treasurer

Chicago Chess Center NFP Inc.

P.S.  If you'd like to make your donation by check, here's our mailing address:


Chicago Chess Center NFP Inc.
P.O. Box 180095
Chicago, IL 60618

Thursday, December 26, 2013

David Peng at World Youth Championships

David has 7 points in 9 rounds!

UPDATE: He won again! Now 8-2! Tomorrow he faces Abdrashev Arlen of Kazakhstan, who just lost to Awonder Liang.

http://www.worldyouth2013.com/playerbio/120

Cheesehead and honorary Chicagoan Awonder Liang leads the world with 9-0!

UPDATE: Make that 10-0! Tomorrow he faces Kaifeng Yu of China, who trails him by a full two points! That is the last round, so it looks like Awonder has already clinched the World Under-10 Championship outright, while David is fighting for second! We wish the best of luck (and skill) to both Awonder and David tomorrow.

http://www.worldyouth2013.com/playerbio/118

FINAL UPDATE: Yes, David won the World Under-10 silver medal and Awonder won his second gold medal!  Story here.

Friday, November 29, 2013

CICL: Big upset for Tornado Snakes


The East Division of the Chicago Industrial Chess League is going to be interesting this year!

Mark Coleman scores a convincing upset against yours truly.  (I have a backlog of recent losses to publish: it's therapeutic.)


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Road trip: Kings Island Rd 1

Hey, it's a blog.

I had a casual dinner with Andrew Karklins at the Melrose a week ago Monday, and wound up playing him in Ohio on Friday. A perpetual cheapo salvages my iffy position.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Belfast Immortal

My former graduate school / barroom colleague Paul Catterson plays the game of his life.  I have vowed revenge.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Warm up for the big event at the Illinois Class Championships!

This year's Illinois Class is an affordable one-day event in Lisle.  Have fun, warm up for the Midwest Class Championships, win Tour Points, and support the Illinois Chess Association.  See you there!

A State Championship Event
Sunday, November 24, 2013
2013 Illinois Class Championships
An Illinois Chess Tour Event
4SS: G/60, 5 sec. increment. Location: Hilton Lisle/Naperville; 3003 Corporate West Drive; Lisle, Illinois, 60532; USA TEL: 1-630-505-0900, $89 + tax room rate if reserved by 6pm Nov 15th, mention Illinois Chess Association. 
Six Sections: Master & Expert, Class A, Class B, Class C, Class D, U1200. For a fee, you may play up one section, but you must be an E player to play up into the Class D section. November rating supplement determines section eligibility. 
Prizes: Master & Expert (one section): $500-$200-$50. Classes A, B, C, D (four sections): $150-$75-$40 each section. U1200: Trophy-Medal-Medal (no cash prizes, tie breaks apply). Cash prizes based on 90 entries in MX through D sections.
EF: MX through D $40, U1200 $20, plus $5 for non-ICA members, plus $10 after Nov 17th. Play-up fee $20 cash, payable on-site. Free entry to GM, WGM, IM, WIM, FM, WFM FIDE titleholders who list Illinois as their state of residence with the USCF. Contact Tom Sprandel, secretary@il-chess.org, to register.
Registration: On-site 8:30 - 9:30am. Online http://shop.il-chess.org/ (ends 9:00pm, Nov 23rd). Or, mail check, name, USCF#, and phone number to: Class Championships; Illinois Chess Association, Inc.; 150 N Wacker Dr, Ste 3100; Chicago, IL 60606. (Must arrive by Nov 16th.) Round Times: 10:00am, 12:30pm, 3:00pm, 5:30pm. 
Other: All special rules, details, and tournament conditions are subject to change without notice and will be posted ASAP at the site or on-line.

$10,000 in prizes at Greater Midwest Class Championships in Rosemont 11/29 to 12/1!

Yes, folks, that's $10,000!

You can choose between three-day and two-day schedules, too.

Details here.

Enter here!

Monday, November 11, 2013

XX1 Chicago Latino Championships in Pilsen on November 30th

Thanks to Hector Hernandez for running the 21st edition of this labor of love!

5SS G/30. Non-rated. Chicago Public Library Lozano Branch, 1805 S. Loomis Street, Chicago, IL 60608. Schedule: Registration is from 9-9:30 am on the day of the event only. Time: 9:00 am - 4:30 pm 5. Rounds: 10:00 am, 11:15 am, 1:00 pm, 2:15 pm, 3:30 pm. Sections: Section I: Open to players 15 years of age and older. Section II: Open to players 14 years of age and younger. Prizes: 10 trophies awarded in each section. Entry fee: Free. For more information: hernande@chipublib.org or (312) 746-4329

Hmm, November 16th is a busy day....

Two nice events at Whitney Young (but a bit of a scheduling snafu), as there's a great unrated scholastic event in the city and a great USCF-rated state championship event in the Twin Cities.  Oh well: there are only so many weekends in the year, and stuff like this happens.  The trick is to minimize the calendar conflicts....

But note the Winter Camp on January 2-3, 2014.  Michael Auger is simply wonderful with children!  (He's not bad with AARP members like me, either.)


K-8 Chess Tournament:
Date:  November 16th, 2013



Place:  Whitney Young High School (2nd Floor Library)  211 S Laflin, Chicago
Schedule:  4 rounds, Game 30, Check in 9:00-9:45am, 1st round begins at 10am, last round ends around 2pm
Sections: All USCF Rated: K-2, K-8 Open, and K-8 U1000; USCF membership is required and can be purchased at the event.

Entry Fee:  $20 online registration by 11/15, $25 on site.
Awards are given to the top 5 individuals and top team (3 players) in each section.


Register at www.chesskash.com



Winter Camp Details:

All Camps run from 9am - 2pm, feature master level instruction, include lunch, both casual and tournament play, including blitz and bughouse, and recess usually in a gym or outside.

January 2-3 @ Whitney Young High School

211 S Laflin, Chicago, IL 60607

Featured instructors:  National Master Michael Auger and State Champion Chess Coach Paul Kash
Entry Fee $50 per day

All-Grade Championship this November 16th in Bloomington!

Mark Nibellin and the Bloomington-Normal crew always run a great event.  My personal opinion: if your child has USCF tournament experience at any level and is grades K-8, a road trip to the All-Grade is not to be missed!

(For high school students, it's skippable. Again IMO.)

ICA announcement here.


The  Illinois All Grade state championship is coming up on November 16th.  This is one of the two most important events for Illinois’ scholastic players in grades K-12.  
Event Details: Bone Student Center, Illinois State University, 100 N. University St., Normal, IL 61761
Schedule: Arrive by 8:30 Rd 1 begins at 9:00 am.  Subsequent rounds begin a minimum of 15 minutes from the last game completed in each section’s previous round.

Sections: 10 sections by grade, K-8, and 1 combined high school section, 2 if numbers warrant:
K-3: 5 rounds, Swiss system, G/30 
4-5: 5 rounds, Swiss system, G/45
6-12: 4 rounds, Swiss system, G/60
Players must come from the state of Illinois. Top three players count toward team score. No Club Teams. No byes last round. Byes for any single round must be requested before the end of the first round. Only one bye allowed for tournament. All other rules/regulations shall be in accordance to ICA By-laws and the USCF Rulebook.
Awards:
Each grade K-1 and 6-8 10 individual trophies and 3 team trophies.
Each grade 2-5 15 individual trophies and 5 team trophies.
Each grade 9-12 3 individual trophies and 3 team trophies.
Entry Fee and Registration: Online registration at www.bnasc.org or directly at http://www.eventbrite.com/event/8746313459/es2/?rank=1&sid=4a7b7551346311e39e5e123139057c14.  Entry fee $25 if received by Nov. 9, $40 if received after Nov. 9. No registration on site.
Contact infomarknibb@comcast.net cell: 309-532-7815


"Anand-Carlsen duel fires up chess fervor in India"

Story in the Tribune.

I'm glad that parents support their chess-playing children, but stuff like this makes me slightly suspicious:
Tamilarasi and her husband, a government official, gave it a shot, even letting their children take time off school to concentrate on chess.
Although chess sets are cheap, travelling to other states for tournaments can cost anywhere from 10,000 to 50,000 rupees ($160 to $800).
"We don't plan leisure trips or buy the latest clothing. Instead we direct our money towards the game," said Tamilarasi. "It is a risk but we are hopeful that our plans for our children to become chess champions will click."
Parents will do anything for their children.  Yes, for a middle-class person in India or the USA, spending $800 on the kids' chess isn't crazy.  But when parents prioritize chess over school (and to be fair, I'm not sure Ms. Tamilarasi is doing that: could be an overemphasis by the reporter), then I get suspicious.

Becoming a chess champion is a longshot. Transferring the skills learned in chess (both soft skills and cerebral firepower) happens all the time.

Oh yes, the world championship: games 1 and 2 have been non-events (I got up at 5 a.m. twice this weekend, and was back in bed by 5:30 both days).  ChessBase is one of many free sites with excellent coverage.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago season begins at Lane Tech on Nov. 16!

Fresh from the inbox:

Please join us next Saturday, November 16th, for the first
YCFC tournament of the year, at Lane Tech College Prep.  A
location guide is attached.
All rosters are due Thursday, November 14th.  This is for
everyone - both new and returning players.  Once a player is
submitted on a roster, they are eligible to play in all six YCFC
tournaments this year.
I hope to see you next Saturday!
November 16th Tournament at Lane Tech

Albert G. Lane Technical High School.
2501 W. Addison (3600 North)
Schedule:  Registration   9:00 - 9:30
                  Tournament  10:15 - 3:00
                  Trophy Presentation  3:15 (est.)
   All players must check-in at the tournament site by 9:30!
   Late arrivals will not be paired in the first round

3 Sections:  Novice K-4, Novice 5-8, Advanced
   Unrated, no entry fee 
   Swiss-style, 5 rounds (est.), USCF standard tiebreaks
   G/20 + 3 sec. increment in Advanced section when clocks are available
   Notation required in the Advanced section

Awards:  Individual trophies to the top 10 in both novice
   sections.  Individual trophies to the top 6 in the advanced
   section.  Team trophies to the top three teams in both novice
   sections.  Team trophy to top team in the advanced section.
   Team score calculated by top four scores in novice sections,
   top three scores in advanced.
Entries:  YCFC uses a roster system for tournament entries.
  All players on submitted rosters are eligible to play in any
  YCFC tournament during the scholastic year.  Submit
  rosters, including name, grade, school and section to
  attn: Mike Cardinale, no later than Thursday, November 14th.
  All players must check-in on site by 9:30.
Coaches:  Please let me know if you plan on attending with a
  rough estimate of the number of players by Thursday, November 14th.
Many thanks to athletic director Brian Hofman for welcoming us to
the school, and to Cindy Frapolly and to Debi Prince for suggesting
Lane Tech and for doing all of the groundwork.  A great effort!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Evanston Chess $5 tournament this Saturday, such a deal

Levy Senior Center, 300 Dodge Ave., Evanston, IL 60202

Evanston Chess Presents:

November 2, 2013, 9:00am-5:00pm


Tri-Level, 4SS G/40 delay 5
Three Sections, USCF Dual Rated
Our guest master will be FM Kevin Bachler


Section Gold: 1700 and over

Section Silver: 1200 - 1699
Section Bronze: Under 1200 and Unrated


1600 - 1699 may play up to Gold. 
1100 - 1199 may play up to Silver. 
Published USCF Regular Rating determines eligibility. 
Unrated players may be placed up at TD discretion.


Please pre-register if you plan to attend.

Our space is limited and we will cap attendance at 52 players. Priority will be given to players who pre-register by email to enter@evanstonchess.org before 7 p.m. on November 1 and arrive at the tournament before 9:20 a.m. on November 2. Thanks for your understanding and support.

From time to time Evanston Chess pays one or more titled players to play in our events. We usually do not pair them against each other. Even if they should lose (it does happen) we may pair them with the highest score groups.

Four rounds. Digital clocks are required and will be set to G/40 plus 5 seconds delay. Accelerated or decelerated pairings at TD discretion. Sections may be combined at TD discretion.

Registration from 9:00 to 9:30 am. Players must check in by 9:30 am; players who arrive late will receive a half-point bye for the first round. First Round 9:45 am, last round over roughly 5:00 pmLunch Break: We will allow time for a lunch break if the schedule at the center permits. Round times will be posted after round 1 begins. As always, we will order in pizza from Sarpinos for those who would rather not go out for lunch. $5 gets you a minimum of two slices (specify pepperoni or cheese) and one can of pop (Coke, Diet Coke, Orange, Rootbeer, Sprite, Iced Tea).

You may take one half-point bye in any round but the last.

Entry fee is $5, please pay cash (no checks) at the door. Masters and Experts play free.

Junior players (under fourteen years) rated 900+ are welcome. Sorry, but we do not accept junior players rated under 900. Must be accompanied by a parent throughout the event.

Bring clocks. -- Wheelchair accessible. No Smoking.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Reminder: FREE lecture by GM Alex Yermolinsky lecture this Sunday, October 20th!

GM Alex Yermolinsky Lecture

The Chicago Chess Center is sponsoring a free public lecture by GM Alex Yermolinsky at Faraday School, 3250 W. Monroe, this Sunday, October 20th, at 2:00 P.M.

Driving directions (coming in from the west)  

Take Eisenhower inbound to Exit 27A (Sacramento).  Turn right on to Sacramento (3000W), go a couple hundred feet and take the first right onto Harrison (600S), then go 0.3 blocks west to Kedzie (3200W), turn right, and go north on Kedzie a few blocks .  You will soon see John Marshall Metro High School on your left (west) side.  Make a left on Monroe: Faraday Elementary will be on your right side, immediately north of Marshall, 1/2 block west of Kedzie

It is perfectly safe to park on the Faraday / Marshall campus.  (There is overflow parking on the south side of Marshall.)  I do not recommend parking on the street or taking public transportation.

Please feel free to share with friends!


GM Alex Yermolinsky to speak at Faraday

The Chicago Chess Center invites you to a free public lecture by Grandmaster Alex Yermolinsky at Faraday School, 3250 W. Monroe St. (at Kedzie Avenue), Chicago, on Sunday, Oct. 20, at 2 PM. Free parking is available on campus.
In his 1999 book The Road to Chess Improvement, Alex Yermolinsky at age 41 looked back at a crisis in his career at age 28. Back in 1986, Yermolinsky, who was then still living in the Soviet Union and who had had some success as a player and trainer, found himself unable to move to the next level. In his own words:
[In 1986] I was already an established player somewhere between strong [International Master] and weak [Grandmaster] strength, even if I held no international title. I could cite the lack of opportunities afforded to me by the Soviet state, but honestly, I am not sure I deserved many of those. Year after year, I went through the same mesh system of qualification tournaments, only to prove once again that I was good enough to reach the First League of the USSR Championship, but not good enough to get into the Premier League. Seven years, man, it was going on for seven years, and back to Square One every spring! . . . I felt like I was back in my junior years, when in every tournament there would be someone else, not me, taking that next step. I think I could have easily quit chess, but to my surprise, I never did.
The problem I had to acknowledge was the stagnation of my development. I was simply going nowhere. It's not that I lacked experience—I was 28 years old then, and I have been playing chess for some 20 years up to that point—it was rather a sad realization that my game was not improving.
Alex Yermolinsky turned his career around by beginning to seriously study his own games. This hard work led to significant results. After emigrating to the United States, Yermolinsky earned the Grandmaster title in 1992, won the 1993 U.S. Championship and a second U.S. title in 1996, became one of the top 20 players in the world, and represented the United States twice on first board of the Olympiad team.
In the past decade, GM Yermolinsky has focused on teaching and training other players—he is one of the most popular lecturers on the Internet Chess Club. He offers no magic bullets or easy answers to aspiring players:
A good teacher should leave students enough room to try different things on their own. One common mistake is to teach based on "one's own experience." It's not objective or even truthful. The wrong turns taken and mistakes made by the teacher tend to be swept under the carpet, and the former player, now teacher, begins to idealize his or her past as a straight path to knowledge and skill that all students must diligently follow. Teachers should remember how they learned skills through their own trial and error, and therefore students are better off choosing their own path.
GM Yermolinsky's lecture will be of interest not only to chess players and coaches but also to educators interested in a field report on the acquisition of expertise and in methods of passing hard-won knowledge down to one's students and teaching students to think critically and independently.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Midwest Class results

Yes, I'm still blogging, but I've been doing procrastinators' tax returns for the past couple weeks.  Back in business later this week.

The Midwest Class was rather strong this year!  Check out the results.  Dmitry Gurevich won the top section 4-1, on tiebreaks over his GM colleagues Nikola Mitkov, Yury Shulman, and Swiss Gambiteer Mesgen Amanov.

Friday, October 11, 2013

FREE GM Alex Yermolinsky lecture on Sunday, October 20

The Chicago Chess Center invites you to a free public lecture by Grandmaster Alex Yermolinsky at the Faraday Elementary School, 3250 W. Monroe (Monroe and Kedzie), Chicago, on Sunday, October 20th, at 2 p.m.  Free parking is available on campus.

In his 1999 book The Road to Chess Improvement, Alex Yermolinsky at age 41 looked back at a crisis in his career at age 28.  Back in 1986, Yermolinsky, who was then still living in the Soviet Union and who had had some success as a player and trainer, found himself unable to move to the next level.  In his own words:

[In 1986] I was already an established player somewhere between strong [international master] and weak [grandmaster] strength, even if I held no international title.  I could cite the lack of opportunities afforded to me by the Soviet State, but honestly, I am not sure I deserved many of those. Year after year, I went through the same mesh system of qualification tournaments, only to prove once again that I was good enough to reach the First League of the USSR Championship, but not good enough to get I to the Premier League. Seven years, man, it was going on for seven years, and back to Square One every spring! [....] I felt like I was back in my junior years, when in every tournament there would be someone else, not me, taking that next step.  I think I could have easily quit chess, but to my surprise, I never did.

The problem I had to acknowledge was the stagnation of my development. I was simply going nowhere. It's not that I lacked experience—I was 28 years old then, and I have been playing chess for some 20 years up to that point—it was rather a sad realization that my game was not improving.


Alex Yermolinsky turned his career around by beginning to seriously study his own games.  This hard work led to significant results.  After emigrating to the USA, Yermolinsky earned the Grandmaster title in 1992, won the 1993 US Championship and a second US title in 1996, became one of the top twenty players in the world, and represented the USA twice on first board of the Olympiad team. 

In the past decade, Grandmaster Yermolinsky has focused on teaching and training other players—he is one of the most popular lecturers on the Internet Chess Club.  He offers no magic bullets or easy answers to aspiring players:

A good teacher should leave students enough room to try different things on their own.  One common mistake is to teach based on "one’s own experience."  It's not objective or even truthful.  The wrong turns taken and mistakes made by the teacher tend to be swept under the carpet and the former player, now teacher, begins to idealize his or her past as a straight path to knowledge and skill that all students must diligently follow.

Teachers should remember how they learned skills through their own trial and error, and therefore students are better off choosing their own path.


Grandmaster Yermolinsky’s lecture will be of interest not only to chess players and coaches, but also to educators interested in a field report on the acquisition of expertise and in methods of passing hard-won knowledge down to one’s students, and methods of teaching students to think critically and independently.