Friday, November 18, 2011

Armenian Gambit

From Avet Demourian's September 15th Associated Press story in the Chicago Tribune

Tiny Armenia is a big player in world chess, and a new gambit could make it even bigger: mandatory chess in school.

The click-clack of chess pieces is being heard around the former Soviet nation's primary schools this fall, as the game becomes part of the curriculum along with such standards as math and history for children between the ages of 7 and 9 [....]

Wendi Fischer, executive director of the United States' Foundation for Chess [sic], has campaigned for the game to be taken up in U.S. classrooms and says Armenia's program has big potential.

"By incorporating chess as part of the curriculum, you are including a game, and that's how kids see it," Fischer said. "They think they're focused on fun. So I think it is a great way to cross over between a true hardcore curriculum that's mandatory and the young children being able to play and explore and have fun.":

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Local chess team Chicago Blaze looks to keep competition in check "

Prior to last night's Blaze match, Sevan Muradian was interviewed yesterday by Alison Cuddy of WBEZ's Eight Forty-EightListen here!

Chicago 2½, L.A. 1½!!!

Last night at the North Shore Chess Center, Dmitry Gurevich and Josh Friedel powered the Chicago Blaze to a 2½-1½ win over the L.A. Vibe.  On to the U.S. Chess League finals!

Must work: games here!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Shulman annotates another USCL Game of the Week

Check it out on the Blaze blog!

Road trip: Kings Island Open

I saw many Chicago players this weekend at the Kings Island Open in Mason, Ohio: the top section included GM Dmitry Gurevich, FM Andrew Karklins, and FM Aleksandar Stamnov, and Wayne Clark was one of the directors.  The top Illinois finisher, FM Igor Tsyganov, scored an undefeated 3½-1½ and drew GM Alexander Shabalov.  Kentucky lion Gregory Kaidanov took top honors in the Open Section with a perfect 5-0.

Congratulations to Illinois players Zhijin Hu, who won $1186 for clear first in the Under 1250 section, and Delondon Hawthorne, who won $678 for equal first in the Under 1000 section.

Vanity p.s.: I won the $678 "second-best fish" prize when the congenial NM Owechuku Iwu (who'd previously beaten me four games in a row) once again outplayed me as he normally does, but then went wrong in a tricky bishop vs. knight ending.  But is there any other kind?

Brock-Iwu, Kings Island Open 2011
Black to play

The problems that knights have in stopping rook pawns from queening are legendary.  But sometimes bishops have issues coping with rook pawns, too, especially when they're supported by a friendly king and knight.  (I learned this lesson the hard way from Jiri Marek at the 2002 Illinois Open.)

Normally, play on both sides of the board favors the player with the bishop, and Black is up two pawns to boot.  But it seems that White is not worse here!  Dr. Iwu went into a 45-minute think, then played 1...Kb3?  2.Kxf7 h4 3.Nd3, and White soon won.  What would you have done?  Some reasonable-looking moves appear to lose, and I suspect that two strange-looking moves draw.

Crosstables here!

"Masters of the Game and Leaders by Example"

Left to right: James Black Jr., Justus Williams and Joshua Colas
Richard Perry for The New York Times
Fewer than 2 percent of the 47,000 members of the United States Chess Federation are masters — and just 13 of them are under the age of 14. 

Among that select group of prodigies are three black players from the New York City area — Justus Williams, Joshua Colas and James Black Jr. — who each became masters before their 13th birthdays.
Check out this great story in The New York Times.

And let's work together to create some competition for the New Yorkers.