Friday, May 25, 2012

We get cc'd on strange letters

Don't ask me why I got a copy of this!

May 25, 2012
direct phone: 312.201.3977
direct fax: 312.863.7477


Mr. Sevan Muradian
North American Chess Association, Inc.
5500 West Touhy Avenue
Suite A
Skokie, Illinois 60077

Brad Rosen, Esq.
Special Legal Counsel
North American Chess Association, Inc.
5500 West Touhy Avenue
Suite A
Skokie, Illinois 60077

Re: Mr. Shiva Maharaj

Dear Messrs. Muradian and Rosen:

We represent Mr. Shiva Maharaj. Reference is made to: (i) the e-mail below from Mr. Brad Rosen, in his capacity as Special Counsel to the North American Chess Association (the "Association"), to Mr. Maharaj dated March 31, 2012; and (ii) the police report filed with the Village of Skokie Police Department on April 10, 2012, and supplemented on April 19, 2012, accusing Mr. Maharaj of criminal trespass to land and disorderly conduct. Because Mr. Rosen signed the e-mail in his capacity as Special Counsel to the Association, we presume that his actions are attributable to the Association, and therefore I am sending this response to the Association as well.

The documents referred to above contain multiple material falsehoods. Mr. Maharaj visited the North Shore Chess Center (the "Center") on March 30, 2012, to look in on one of his students who was competing in a tournament there. After spending approximately fifteen minutes inside the Center, Mr. Maharaj was standing on the lawn outside the Center (which certainly appears to be freely accessible to the public) speaking to a few parents about chess. While standing there, Mr. Maharaj was accosted by Mr. Rosen, who soon started yelling at him and demanding that he leave. As Mr. Maharaj was in the process of leaving, Mr. Rosen ran after him and confronted him again in a highly belligerent and emotional way that was alarming and upsetting not only to my client but to various onlookers. During this outburst, Mr. Rosen was yelling so loudly that Mr. Muradian appeared at the door of the Center and cautioned Mr. Rosen that he could be heard by the children inside the Center.

None of the statements made by Mr. Maharaj at the Center could remotely be described as inflammatory, critical or controversial, let alone "poisonous," as alleged. There were certainly no "disparaging remarks regarding local titled players," as is represented in the Police Report. The only discussion concerning any individual was the length of time that Mr. Jerry Neugarten had been President of Youth Foundation of the Illinois Chess Association. Mr. Rosen's confrontational outburst and conduct were completely out of proportion to anything that was said or done by my client.  Clearly, Mr. Rosen had sought to provoke a confrontation.

Subsequent to this incident, at approximately 12:45 p.m. on March 31, Mr. Maharaj returned briefly to the Center for the purpose of checking in on his student. Upon arriving at the Center, Mr. Maharaj was met by Mr. Muradian, who asked him to leave, and our client immediately did so. At this time, contrary to the representation in the Police Report, Mr. Maharaj was completely unaware of the existence of the e-mail -- sent at approximately 12:26 p.m., less than 20 minutes earlier -- demanding that he stay away from the premises. Mr. Maharaj had not read, opened or even known of the existence of the e-mail when he returned to check on his student (as will be easily demonstrable). The March 31 e-mail represents only one of a series of actions that appear intended to cause injury to Mr. Maharaj. First, Mr. Rosen distributed the e-mail to 12 individuals who are shown as copied on the transmission, and we understand that it was distributed further to an unknown number of other individuals. Second, Mr. Muradian contacted a business associate of Mr. Maharaj and urged him to terminate his dealings with Mr. Maharaj. And third, in the most outrageous action of all, the Police Report was filed.

There is no conceivable basis for the accusation that anything that Mr. Maharaj may have said or done at the Center in response to Mr. Rosen's bullying could remotely rise to the level of criminal conduct. Moreover, the fact that you would cause or permit a police report alleging criminal conduct, and risking a permanent scarring of Mr. Maharaj's reputation, to be filed against him without first conducting even the most elementary diligence to assure yourself that the March 31 e-mail had in fact been opened and read by Mr. Maharaj is astonishing and alarming.

It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the statements and actions described above are part of a calculated campaign to discredit Mr. Maharaj and destroy his business reputation. Mr. Maharaj is a highly respected chess teacher with numerous students in Chicago and its suburbs. The course of conduct described above threatens to seriously harm our client's reputation, business and livelihood, and must stop immediately. We demand that you cease and desist from making any further comments concerning Mr. Maharaj, or otherwise seeking to discredit him in the chess community or in any other way. We caution you against any further such misconduct, and will protect Mr. Maharaj's interests to the fullest degree available in the event that you choose to ignore the foregoing caution.

Also, please note that this firm represents Mr. Maharaj in connection with all of the foregoing issues, and Mr. Rosen and any other counsel representing the Association should refrain from having any further contact with Mr. Maharaj outside of my presence.

Very truly yours,
Oscar L. Alcantara

Chicago Open Round 1 results

GM Mesgen Amanov and IM Florin Felecan were both upset in Round 1 (it happens). Top seed GM Michael Adams was among those held to a draw. 19 Grandmasters this year: not shabby!

 Crosstables available here (click on "standings" on the right column of your browser).

Chicago Open Round 1: All in the family

GM Yury Shulman wins comfortably against WIM Viktorija Ni:

I am prepared to give Gabriel knight odds until age six. At age ten, he will probably be giving me knight odds:
Both photos and the cool video swiped from the Chess Club and Scholastic Center of St. Louis.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Michael Adams in Downers Grove

I played in the English grandmaster's clock simultaneous exhibition in Downers Grove last night: Adams scored a very clean 10-0 against players with median ELO comfortably above 2000. (Well, Adams did get overambitious against Jeff Dixon and was probably losing for a couple moves.)

The gracious Michael Adams signs a book for some bald guy
  Here's my game: not too embarrassing, but I lost the handle somewhere around move 32.

Thanks to Grandmaster Michael Adams, Steffen Klug, Daniel Parmet, and the Downers Grove Chess Club for a fun evening!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Braswell Memorial reminder

Worth repeating! From the Evanston Chess website:

Blitz tournament will fund Braswell Memorial High School chess prize
The Evanston Chess Club and the Illinois Chess Coaches Association (ICCA) are very pleased to announce the Isaac Braswell Memorial Prize. This new prize will recognize achievement in IHSA (Illinois) high school chess competition by an African American high school senior, and will be awarded in 2013.
Evanston Chess Club will hold a USCF-rated blitz tournament on Saturday, June 9, 2012, to raise funds for the Braswell Memorial Prize. All entry fees ($5 at the door) and free-will donations beyond the entry fee will go to the prize fund.  Registration for the tournament is from 9:00-9:30 a.m. and it will be held at the Levy Activity Center, 300 Dodge Ave., Evanston. For more information, click here. Those who cannot attend the tournament but would like to make a donation should contact Maret Thorpe.
The Braswell prize will be awarded to the African American high school senior with the highest IHSA chess rating following the IHSA State Chess Team Championship in February 2013. The winner will receive a cash prize, a plaque and recognition on the ICCA and Evanston Chess Club web sites.
Evanston Chess hopes to hold the tournament annually and continue funding the prize.
Isaac M. Braswell (1979-2012) was one of the strongest active African American chess players in the Chicago area. He reached a peak USCF rating of 2104 (expert level), in spite of poverty, disability and health challenges. Everyone who knew Isaac remembers what a friendly, funny, enthusiastic and kind person he was, even as he was a fierce competitor over-the-board. Isaac’s friendships crossed all lines of race, age, class and profession, and chess was one of many ways he connected with others. Isaac probably played chess everywhere in Chicago; he was a regular at Evanston Chess Club, and in February 2012 played for an Evanston Chess Team at the US Amateur Team-North championships. He also played in the Chicago Industrial Chess League.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Not bad for a sixth-grader (or a supergrandmaster)

GM Michael Adams (photo: Chicago Tribune)
Grandmaster Michael Adams (perhaps a few years past his peak, but still #18 in the world on the live ratings list and still Britain's top player) is in town for the Chicago Open (you have two days to preregister!).

This past Saturday, Adams lectured for six (!) hours at the North Shore Chess Center, then gave a simultaneous exhibition against nineteen twenty-one brave souls.  (GM Adams only lost one game: to a sixth-grader!  (To be fair, just as GM Adams is no ordinary grandmaster, National Elementary Co-Champion Alex Bian is no ordinary sixth-grader.)  The grandmaster makes a "typical" simul oversight: Alex finishes his task with steady and crisp technique.

Final score per Sevan Muradian: 16 wins, 4 draws, and the above loss.

One or two people may still be able to squeeze into the Adams simul in Downers Grove on May 23rd.


Anand wins in 17 moves.: reminds me of games 9 and 10 of the Kasparov-Anand match.

Nice coverage on ChessBase: take their suggestion and check out the end of the game on the official video (beginning at 16:41:00 Moscow time).  A whole bunch of 2700 players were shocked, not just Gelfand.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Gelfand draws first blood

After six consecutive draws in the World Championship match between world champion Viswanathan Anand and challenger Boris Gelfand, Gelfand finally broke through to win game 7. In the final position, Anand has no reasonable defense against 39.Ng6+ Kg8 40.Rg7#. After 38...Rh1+ 39.Kxh1 e1(Q)+ 40.Kh2, Black would have to sac his queen with 40...Qxe5 41.dxe5, leaving White a rook up. WGM Natalia Pogonina, commentating at, observed, "Anand lost this game after provocative/weak play. Nothing special by Boris. Ok, 4-3 in Gelfand's favor, and now we are looking forward to fighting chess in the remaining 5 rounds."

As Pogonina indicates, there are only five games left in "regulation play." If the match is tied at that time, the tie will be broken by a series of rapid games, then blitz games if necessary, and finally if necessary an "Armageddon" game.

Nakamura wins U.S. Championship

Nakamura, after winning (as Black) against Kamsky, had a half-point lead over Kamsky going into the last round. Naka had White against Seirawan, who was having a horrible tournament, while Kamsky was Black against Robert Hess. The safe, "professional" thing to do would be to play solidly against Seirawan and keep an eye on Kamsky's game. If it looked like Kamsky was going to draw or lose, Naka could draw and clinch the win; if it looked like Kamsky would win, Naka could press for the win against Seirawan. Instead, Naka trotted out a "Brand X" line against Seirawan's French (1.e4 e6 2.f4?!), which is almost never seen (less than a third of a percent of the games with the French Defense) and gives Black a plus score! The critics (including me) would have said "What was he thinking!" if Naka had lost. But no, it worked like a charm - Naka crushed Seirawan, while Kamsky drew. This gave Naka the championship by a full point, undefeated, 8.5/11 (6 wins, 5 draws). This is comparable to Fischer's typical score in U.S. Championships. Congratulations to Hikaru Nakamura on his gutsy play and incredible performance!