Friday, January 11, 2013

December 2012 Chicago Chess Player is out!

Will Tseng wins 2008 Electronic Knights, 2010 Palciauskas

I most recently saw Will working the floor as a volunteer TD during the Youth Chess Foundation of Chicago's event at Rickover Naval Academy. I knew he was a strong player, but I had no idea how strong!  Will recently won the USCF's 2008 Electronic Knights championship, and Alex Dunne wrote a nice feature on him in January's Chess Life.  Check it out!  (I hope to get permission to republish the article next month for non-subscribers.)

In modern correspondence play, email has replaced post cards.  In USCF events, the players are not allowed to consult chess engines (Fritz, Houdini, Rybka...), although they are allowed to perform research in chess books and computer databases.  (In international correspondence play, engines are allowed.)  Jerry Neugarten asked about the date: why 2008?. Well, the event has a preliminary, semi-finals, and finals, and each game takes quite a while to complete. Correspondence play is a great deal of fun, and you rapidly discover how little you and your opponent really understand about this game.

Will also recently tied for first in the 2010 Victor Palciauskas championship (in honor of the retired Lithuanian-American correspondence World Champion, who earned his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Illinois). Will played a beautiful attacking game again James Vaughn that is also featured by Alex Dunne this month at Chess Life Online.  (The gentleman in the suit looking vaguely like Col. Sanders is Alex Dunne: I remember playing in a tournament with him circa 1975 when he looked more like one of Hell's Angels.)

Congratulations to Will for earning two big championship titles!

Penny Xu featured in News-Gazette

Penny, a sophomore at Urbana High School, was profiled in yesterday's News-Gazette.  She's brilliant, charming, and...she lives Downstate.  (Again, nobody's perfect.)

But Penny has impeccable Chicago credentials: while she's had many great teachers over the years, I only recently discovered that she was started on her championship path by the legendary Hector Hernandez at the Rudy Lozano Public Library in Pilsen.  And Serge Minin, mentioned en passant, starred for the powerhouse Niles North teams of a couple decades ago.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


Somebody (maybe it was Ann Landers) observed that we don't get to choose the circumstances into which we're born. Instead, we're thrown into the world, and we have to learn to cope with our situation.

I attended grammar school in Sanford, N.C. In the summer between second and third grade, I somehow became interested in chess. My mother took me to the public library, where I read all the beginners' books. I even played in the 1967 U.S. Junior Open in Raleigh and the 1968 state championship in Wilmington. But by today's standards, I was a terrible player. Sanford's chess club met on Tuesdays, and I was allowed to attend a couple of evenings, but no adult had any interest in playing or teaching a child. So I stopped going.

When I was 10 years old, my parents separated. We moved in with my grandparents in Shamokin, Pa., an Appalachian anthracite mining town in decline. My mother worked as a third-shift nurse's aide in the county home for the elderly; when my grandparents could no longer take the stress of living with four children, we moved into a public housing project. As a teen, I developed serious health problems: first Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, then grand mal epilepsy. I expected to attend college, but our poverty and my chronic illness made me wonder how realistic I was being.

But Shamokin had a chess club that welcomed children, and it was only there that I became a decent player. I learned from Rev. Bingaman, a top amateur player who was kind enough to allow me to win on occasion; Mr. Tasker, a retired businessman; Mr. Myers, a local insurance agent; Mr. Dombrowski, a merchant marine from Brooklyn who had excellent technique in rook endings; Mr. Reed, our high school coach, who had a wide circle of tournament-playing friends; Dan Polastre, first board for our school's arch-rival, Our Lady of Lourdes; and many others. Our club played matches against Bloomsburg and Hazleton, and the adults frequently took me to tournaments in Harrisburg, Allentown, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

The skills I learned from chess helped me succeed in my various interests: first science (I was accepted at MIT), then business (I'm a partner in a Loop accounting firm) and the humanities (I have a Ph.D. in American literature and taught for several years at Loyola Chicago).

Enough about me. There are 2.7 million people in Chicago; more than 620,000 of them are children. Thirty percent of these children live in poverty. Of these, at least 90,000 live in "deep poverty," with family income at only 50 percent of poverty level. Add substandard schools, the drug economy and gang violence: suddenly, my childhood seems idyllic in comparison.

There may be hundreds of paths for Chicago's children to escape the situation into which they've been thrown. Chess is one such path, and it works. A chess center in Chicago will provide a safe, chaperoned place for children (and adults) to learn how to think analytically, to form hypotheses, test them, reject them, reformulate.

Of course, children who learn to cope with problems on the chessboard won't find that the streets of Chicago have become magically unproblematic. But chess teaches many of the skills these young people need to succeed in our postindustrial information economy. I expect young leaders like Pobo Efekoro (featured in the amazing chess documentary Brooklyn Castle), not only to cope with reality but to transform it in coming years.

Many people are already doing the good work of chess instruction in school and in after-school programs. If the Chicago Chess Center can contribute to the good work already being done to help young people, even if only for a handful of the hundreds of thousands who need our help, I'd consider that a partial repayment of the debt I owe to the adults who helped me. As long as we keep our doors open, I promise you that we will never turn away a child with a passion to learn.

So far, with just over a week left in our fundraising campaign, we've raised less than 20 percent of the $30,000 we need to open our doors in May. The Chicago Chess Center is a 501(c)(3) organization; your tax-deductible support can change lives. Please give generously now.

Thanks for your time,

Bill Brock
Secretary/Treasurer, Chicago Chess Center NFP Inc.

P.S. You'll also have yet another venue for tournament play and skittles
a more mundane but equally valid reason to give now.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

YCFC - January 19th event at De La Salle

Cut and pasted from email 

A Happy New Year to all!

Following is the announcement for our January 19th tournament at De La Salle Institute, co-hosted by St. Columbanus Elementary School.  

This year, we will be expanding our Novice sections from two to four for the January and February tournaments. This tournament will have a total of five sections - Novice K-2, Novice 3-4, Novice 5-6, Novice 7-8, and Advanced. Each Novice section will award seven individual trophies and two team trophies.  Overall, we will be awarding 43 trophies, up from the usual 33.  Don't miss this improved chance at taking home a trophy!

Those who have rosters on file need only submit additions to the roster - an entry list is not needed.
Please make note of the balance of our schedule below. I'm happy to report that we will be returning to Northside College Prep for the big February event!

January 19th Tournament at De La Salle

De La Salle Institute High School
3434 S. Michigan (100 East), NW corner of Michigan and 35th St.

Parking:  we have access to the IIT (Illinois Institute of Technology) parking lot adjacent to the west side  of the school on the north side of 35th Street.  If you  are proceeding east on 35th street from the Dan Ryan expressway, you will see the lot entrance on your left just before the school and Michigan Ave.  The sign on the lot says IIT, but there should also be an "Event Parking" sign up on Saturday.

Schedule:  Registration   9:00 - 9:30
                Tournament  10:00 - 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.

5 Sections:  Novice K-2, Novice 3-4, Novice 5-6, Novice 7-8,  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 7 in all novice sections, and to the top 6 in the advanced section.  Team trophies to the top two teams in all novice sections, and to the 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, or by fax to 773-248-1007, attn: Mike Cardinale, no later than Thursday, January 17th.

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, January 17th

Thanks again to George Dzuricsko of De La Salle and Kelli Moore of St. Columbanus for welcoming us back, and to the De La Salle Meteors chess team for assisting!

Moving Up!

The following players will move up to the advanced section on January 19th according to YCFC rules:

Vicki Liang, Goudy, 1st place, Novice 5-8
Miguel Castro, Bateman, 2 trophies, Novice 5-8
Andres Hernandez-Sanchez, Bell, 2 trophies, Novice 5-8
Johnny Tran, Goudy, 2 trophies, Novice 5-8
Russel Ninofranco, Waters, 2 trophies, Novice 5-8

Remaining Schedule

February 16                 Northside College Preparatory High School
                                  5501 N. Kedzie (3200 W)                                      

April 13                       Air Force Academy High School
                                  3630 S. Wells (200 W) 

May 11                       T.B.A.

Field report: TJWO rounds 1 & 2

My very solid opponent came closer to winning than I did.  He withdrew from the Open after this round and entered the Booster Section, finishing second.

Now to Round 2.  After my blunder on move 24, I took Lady Gaga's advice and maintained my poker face. Then I lashed out emotionally on move 34 (the will to win is healthy, but maybe I'm crazy, just like Cee Lo).  Steven Napoli sees through the cheap shots and neutralizes the "attack" quickly.  He's much stronger now than he was a few years ago!

Slips happen (and TJWO results)

IM Angelo Young - Michael Auger (I think!)
Oak Brook 2013
Black to move

Here (more or less) is the position of the weekend. I say "more or less" because I've reconstructed the above position (from the game between two of the tournament leaders in Round 4 of Tim Just's Winter Open) from memory, so a couple Black pieces might be incorrectly placed.  But all the pieces on the first four ranks are in their proper spots.

Immediately before the diagrammed position, Angelo (who is down the Exchange and a pawn, and who only has minutes left on his clock) played 1.Nf3-g1.  With forty minutes plus increment left on his clock, Michael (who would almost certainly earn his long-overdue National Master title with a victory in this game) now unhurriedly plays 1...e4. 

Can you spot White's subtle reply, which turned a totally lost position into a quick win?  And which blunder in chess history was this most like?  Of the examples on in the Wikipedia article on blunders in chess, I'd compare it to Petrosian's famous blunder against Bronstein.

Most players would be kicking themselves, but after the tournament, Michael was good-naturedly demonstrating 1...e4?? 2.Nxe2 to a roomful of players, laughing and marveling at his blind spot.  The ability to be critical of your play without being too critical of yourself makes chess much more enjoyable!


Oh yes, the prizewinners: the full list is here.  I'll call out the most notable performances.  Congratulations to Angelo Young, Angel Angelov, and the angelic Tommy Ulrich, all with 4½-½ scores in the Open Section.  And special congratulations to eight-year-old Aydin Turgut, who took first Under 2000 with a 3½-1½ score!!

Gee Leong and Nathan Beauchamp took home the big money of the weekend by splitting the Reserve Section title; Giorgi Vanderway (1080) won the Under 1400 prize.

In the Scholastic sections, Robert Barr (slightly underrated at 291!) won the Under 1200 section, and Trevor Tompkins won the Under 700 section.  See the full list of trophy winners here!

Monday, January 7, 2013

More Morris Giles games...

...are featured in this article from The Chess Drum.

Vanity - take my rooks

Tim Just's Winter Open has already been rated: crosstable here.

My opponents in the first four rounds outplayed me fairly convincingly: I felt lucky to have drawn two of the four games. Ratings don't matter as much as people think: everyone has the right to play good chess!  I'll post those games later in the week.

Before the final round began, Wayne Clark awarded me my third consecutive participation ribbon. Not too many minutes later, I had lucked into an admittedly mundane winning position. But inspired by the evergreen ribbon, I sacked two rooks in the style of Anderssen (would you believe Berthold Anderssen?). And yes, if one is already a piece up, then one is really only sacking a rook and the Exchange....

Unlike Kieseritsky, my opponent was wise enough to decline the second rook.