Sunday, August 8, 2010

Delegates' Meeting, day 2

9:05: Attempting to call the meeting to order, but no one can find Bill Hall, the Secretary.

9:06: Called to order, but I'm not sure who is keeping the minutes. Remaining Alarie motion, requiring appointed Delegates to "opt-in" -- confirm to the USCF that they know they've been appointed. Personally, I think it's a solution with no known problem, but since she saved us the trouble of voting down all her other motions, I suppose we can live with this. More debate than this really deserves. Passed.

9:20: Motion by Mike Atkins to suspend the rules to delay implementation of abolishing the 5-minute deduction. Steve Immitt in New York has apparently been haranguing everybody who will take his IMs, and we get to waste a lot of time on this to placate him. Lots of smoke and mirrors. Since I've spoken against this, it would be unfair for me to summarize everyone's argument. We're up to 9:45 now, no real progress. Several claims that the Delegates "didn't understand" what they voted on. I certainly did. Motion to delay passed implementation for a year. Idiots.

9:50: Back to regular order. Motion from the Governance Task Force to require "voter registration." Delegates are automatically registered. Registration to be limited otherwise to Life Members, continuous members for five years, and people who voted in 2009 and 2010. The point seems to be to reduce election costs. And, well, to discourage people who know nothing and vote at random (e.g. for Sloan or Sloan clone), from polluting the voting pool. Amendment to except 16-18-year-olds from the 5-year requirement. Lots of confusion as to what we're supposed to be debating. Failed. Amendment: for 2011 only, just Delegates who were present at the 2010 Annual Meeting would automatically get to vote. Withdrawn. We're up to 10:30 now, not a lot of progress. Amendment: Require registration but allow anyone over 16 to register. Lowest common denominator, but it wouldn't help all that much in trimming the fat. Lots of bafflegab about "disenfranchising." I'm getting a headache. 10:40: Tim Just calls the question, but since it hasn't been typed yet ... OK, it's up now. Question called. Amendment passed. Silly amendment by Larry Cohen to require Delegates and EB to register. Straw poll negative, withdrawn. Question called. Motion passed as amended.

10:50: Change requirements for nominations to require signatures of 50 voting members including 15 Delegates from 5 states. Filing fee not changed. Some technical changes about dates. Amendment: Allow petitions to be gathered starting July 1. Accepted as friendly. 11:05: Some confusion about what we're voting on, but question called and motion passed.

11:10: Changes in recall provisions. Fighting the last war. Probably harder on EB members. My nose bleeds for them. Passed,

11:13: Report but no motion on making the EB the BOD. This may come up again later, but I suspect it will get referred for another year.

11:15: Alarie sponsors Joe Lux's "No Confidence In EB" Motion. She's now repeating the same stuff as yesterday about the CAS arbitration and her "everything must be public" motion. Postponed indefinitely.

11:18: Recognize 25 years of the Denker tournament. Passed by acclamation.

11:23: Don't sell or outsource (most) National Scholastics. I don't like it, but I suppose the scholastic crowd (which doesn't include any, you know, scholastic players) will get their way. I suspect this will come back to bite them, but it's not my problem. Some tinkering with wording, then passed.

11:30: Motion to add "no 14H claims" to 14H with no requirements for advance notice. Motion to delete the new variation. (Rest of the motion is to revert to the version of 14H from last year.) Amendment failed. Main motion passed. Idiots (squared).

11:45: Add to the Denker, tournament for state junior high and elementary champions. (To be named "Barber Tournaments.") To committee(s) with the EB having authority to act. Some quibbling about junior high/middle school etc. Passed.

11:50: Goichberg -- FMs added to PPHBF eligibility. Passed.

11:55: Kuhns -- Adopt the FIDE rules on Chess960/Fischerrandom and add to the rules-change page. Refer to Rules Committee with authority to implement. Passed. Kuhns -- delete FIDE rules from the web page and just link to the FIDE web site. Passed.

12:02: Votes of thanks. Passed.

12:05: Adjournment.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Delegates' Meeting, day 1

We'll again be liveblogging the USCF Annual Circus ... er, Delegates' Meeting in a few minutes. In theory it starts at 9, but in practice they are unlikely to finish calling the roll before 9:30. The agenda may be modified to discuss the FIDE election/CAS arbitration first (which will probably be protracted as everybody and his brother tries to speak), but we'll see in about 45 minutes.

9:10: After a sincere but slightly macabre ceremony in which each state was asked to name someone who died in the last year for a moment of silence, we are now going through the call of the roll. 9:20: We are told that a quorum is present, but they couldn't be bothered to give the number. (Later: subsequent votes show at least 69.)

9:23: Boilerplate motions. Mike Nolan appointed parliamentarian. 9:25: Now we're bickering about the exact order of motions on the advance agenda. Since the motions in question are losers, kinda pointless.

9:30: Rectifying motion from Winston, that what the Bylaws in the Delegates Cal say is really what the Delegates adopted last year. Or at least we all agree to say so. 9:32: Acceptance of election results. (Walters and Nietman elected, Sloan to the glue factory.) Some Polgar/Truong badinage from the chair, seems well received. Moving along well so far.

9:35: Ratification of EB actions. Should be pro forma. Donna Alarie is arguing against it, displaying her vast legal expertise. Passed, though not unanimously.

9:40: ED's report. He's starting with a hagiography of Jerry Hanken. I'll bite my tongue. 9:45: Still going on. Verbose and lachrymose. I wish Hall would get back to business. 9:50: Finally done with Hanken. Now Hall is telling anecdotes which seem to amount to "Things are better than last year." Unexeptionable but not very informative. OK, finally some specifics -- spending some money on hardware upgrades, getting new people will need better salaries and bennies (what s shock). Bill could spend his time better learning to be terse rather than listening to motivational speakers. Promise of "improved" web services, few specifics. Mention of making the web page "more like Facebook" (pardon me while I cringe). Importance of supporting local clubs, trite but true. Now he's talking about "standardizing training." Sounds like a move to central planning economy. Because, you know,that worked so well the last time it was tried. "Spare a moment to think about our staff. You have no idea what they have to put up with." Oh, I think we do.

10:05: Financial report, Bauer. "Last two years have been very difficult." Well, duh. We've learned to live within a budget, can't spend whatever we want. 10:15: Randy make the mistake of asking for questions from the floor, resulting in some time-wasting irrelevancies. ("Why wasn't there more publicity for the U.S. Open?" A fair question, but it has nothing to do with the budget.)

10:20: Budget. Let's hope we don't end up trying to rewrite it on the floor, as was often done in the past. Last year expenses came in under budget. We ended up with a small loss because of $111,000 in bad debt write-off. Budget for next year shows a surplus of $100,000 (~3%). Some technical stuff about handling scholarship prizes in future.

10:25: Motion to adopt the budget. Question on FIDE event income -- higher because of KCF donation for the Olympiad, washes out under expenses. Budget adopted.

10:30: Publications. After a brief mention of cows, Dan Lucas is using his time to praise his staff. I don't agree with everything he's saying, but his heart is in the right place. Loyalty to subordinates hasn't always been the USCF's strongest suit.

10:36: Phone call from Richard Conn to pitch the Karpov ticket and the CAS arbitration business. I'm sure he's a fine fellow, but I think the EB is making a mistake in pushing this. Hole, stop digging, etc.

10:50: Conn seems quite impressive, certainly an asset to the Karpov campaign. Interesting to note that Conn started as a Kasparov associate, but then K&K are now good buddies. Mutatis mutandis. The thing is, I doubt there's any significant support here for Ilyumzhinov, so it seems like preaching to the choir. I'd consider this a preemptive strike by the EB against the "revoke the POA" movement, but I doubt they could time Conn's call versus the agenda that closely.

10:55: Finally getting to the point, the CAS arbitration. He makes a decent case, but much of it amounts to "Kirsan is lawless, so we can and must use any weapon available." Plausible, but not a slam dunk. I'll reserve comment until the other side gets to speak.

11:10: I don't really disagree with much of what Conn has to say, but he's going on too long and is probably losing his audience. Don Schultz is prolonging things with some softball questions. Now Tim Redman is complaining about the length. Beatriz Marinello is demanding a chance to reply. This could get ugly.

11:15: Marinello is now speaking. I don't really want to summarize or comment, since my personal opinions of her are quite negative. In a general way, I suppose I blame the chairman for letting this get out of control. Beatriz now seems to be arguing that a) Kirsan is going to win so there's no point in opposing him (resistance is futile?), and b) the incumbent faction has a track record (won't that always be the case?)

11:20: Motion to limit "reports" to 10 minutes

11:21: Chess Trust. Hall of Fame will soon reopen in St. Louis. Assorted CT actions. Request for donations, can be earmarked for the Olympiad.

11:25: FIDE Delegate/International Affairs, Khodarkovsky. 80 people will be going to the World Youth, including coaches and parents. I hope the USCF isn't paying for them all. Olympiad: Conditions in Siberia will not be good. The three hotels the locals promised to build aren't there. Suggestion that the players bring their own food from home. FIDE Presidential Board meeting -- agenda wasn't published, no minutes. Candidates match Topalov-Kamsky moved to Russia, Topalov may refuse to play, be replaced by a Russian. Kamsky might then appeal to CAS. Round and round we go. Another mistake, asking for questions. Couple of dumb and pointless ones from the usual suspects.

11:38: Election of Delegate-appointed committees. Should be routine. Bylaws: Alarie out, replaced by Ken Ballou. Elections: Mike Nolan stepping down as chair, committee to choose its own. Audit: Perks out, Mike Carr added. Ethics: add Harold Stenzel, Roger Gottschall. LMA: Perks out. Add Allan Priest, Steve Doyle.

11:47: Hall of Fame Committee: DelCall left out two of the HOF inductees, Herman Steiner and Jackson Showalter. Now Don Schultz is complaining about, well, everything. Since there's an awards luncheon at noon, we'll presumably shut this off soon.

11:53: Recess until 2 p.m.

2:05: People finally straggling in from the protracted awards luncheon. No telling when we'll get started again.

2:15: Still no sign of the President or most of the officers.

2:25: The Board members have surfaced, and we're about to get started.

2:29: Rules Committee, Kuhns. Naturally, not in writing. This will take a while. I hope we can figure out what we're supposed to be voting on. 1) Confusing formula for redistributing prize money when a player is limited in how much he can win. Passed. 2) Allow G/25 with delay to be regular-rated, and eliminate deduction for time delay. Motion to divide the question, Passed. a) Eliminate 5-minute deduction option for time delay. Passed. (Effective 1 Jan.) b) Allow G/25 w/delay to be regular-rated. Failed. 3) Late arrival -- reduce time for forfeit from one hour to 30 minutes. Failed, 32-37. 4) Abolish 28T, which allows tinkering with pairings to get players norms or FIDE ratings. Passed. 5) No Quick rating with less than G/5. Already the rule, just a reminder.

3:13: Old Business. Winston, continue promotional membership. No one's going to object to this, can't we just pass it? Passed.

3:15: Bylaws, Winston. 10-09. Replacement of absent Delegates. Delegates not present at 9:30 may be replaced by the State Chapter; the replacement serves the rest of the term. If the absent Del sends notice that he/she will be late, he/she can have until 2 p.m. Winston presented a written opinion from our Illinois attorney that this will be fine. Passed.

3:20 10-10, 501c3 status. This has been kicking around for years. Looks like we'll finally get a vote. Quibbles about legal language. Passed. Of course, that doesn't mean that the IRS will approve it.

3:38: 10-11, Camaratta, abolish OMOV. I sympathize, though I don't care for all his details. The workshop split down the middle on everything except postponing the motion for a year. Postponed.

3:36: 10-12 (determine sites for 2011 & 2012 US Opens early), tabled. 10-13, suspend requirement for one game a day in a 12-round U.S. Open. Extensive debate despite the fact that 12-rounders probably died with Hanken. Failed. 10-14, require continuous USCF membership of EB members. Well, duh. Passed.

3:50: 10-15, Committee chairs get special status. Bylaws workshop hated it. Rationale by someone I won't name sounds like sheer paranoia (have outsiders at closed sessions "to make sure they're not doing anything illegal.") Camaratta, one of the sponsors, says he just wanted the Board to tell the Delegates why they overrule a Committee. Withdrawn after debate.

3:57: Technical change of term limit from 8 years to 9 years. Passed.

4:01: New business. Motion by Don Schultz from the Membership meeting to endorse the Power of Attorney and participation in the CAS arbitration. Motion to amend by Ken Ballou to exactly the opposite. It's going to be a long afternoon.

4:15: I'm not going to summarize every speaker. No one has had anything at all original to say. (Con: USCF participation was not essential, Karpov isn't all that much better than Kirsan, Litigation is a dirty word, Pro: Kirsan is Bad, we need to support Karpov, backing out now -- even if the initial action was a mistake -- would hurt Karpov and help Ilyumzhinov.) Stay tuned.

4:28: Some of the Delegates started complaining that they didn't know what the case is about, so the lawyer from Case and White is explaining it in very general terms. People keep threatening to demand a closed session so we can get more details. We'll be here forever if that happens.

4:38: Substitution defeated. Schultz motion passed.

4:40: Bunch of motions to clean up the DACIs by deleting obsolete ones. Wonder if anyone will insist on debating them? Passed, after only a little time-wasting.

4:50: Cohen, detailed micromanagement of state chapters. Referred to States Committee.

4:59: 10-22, raise dues for 2- and 3-year memberships. Passed.

5:00: Bunch of Donna Alarie motions, all withdrawn.

5:00: Recess until 9 a.m. Sunday.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

USCF Election: Doomsday postponed

On July 21, ballots were counted in Crossville for the USCF special election to fill two one-year terms on the Executive Board. Results were: Mike Nietman 1517, Gary Walters 1472, and the unspeakable Sam Sloan 693. So Nietman and Walters are elected, and Sloan goes back under his rock.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Beauty is truth ...

The competitive side of chess is not the only one there is. Players who have never pushed a pawn in anger can still enjoy the art of chess, through the realm of composition.

There are two basic types of composed positions. In problems, the player must mate in a specifed number of moves. The positions are often rather unlikely from a practical point of view, but the "themes" -- blocking, interference, attraction -- can be quite impressive.

Studies, on the other hand, set a task, to win or draw, and are usually more "gamelike." Endgame studies have only a few pieces on the board, and feature subtle maneuvering. More complicated studies often resemble middlegames, and illustrate such tactical ideas as diversion and overloading.

The study above, first published in Deutsche Schachzeitung in 1914, was composed by the great A. A. Troitzky, one of the giants of the field. It illustrates the theme of domination --
though it seems Black has the whole board to roam, his King and Queen will be forced into a fork.

The solution begins with the improbable 1. Rb7!. Now if 1. ... Qxb7, 2. Nd6+ picks up the Queen, as is also the case on 1. ... Qc8 or 1. ... Qe8. The try 1. ... Qf8 fails to 2. Ne5+ Kc5 3. Nd7+, and 1. ... Qa8 2. Ne5+ is similar -- 2. ... Kc5 3. Rb8! Qxb8 4. Nd7+. So only 1. ... Qg8 remains, and after 2. Ne5+ Kc5 3. Rb8, the Queen seems to escape with 3. ... Qh7. Then comes the final point: 4. b4+ Kd6 5. Rh8!, and Black is brought to bay -- 5. ... Qxh8 6. Nf7+, and White wins. It would never have occurred in a game, but the game is richer for it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

PSW final

Prize Winners

1st: GM Melikset Khachiyan, 5½-½; 2nd: IM Tim Taylor, 5-1; 3rd-4th: IM Jack Peters, Christian Tanaka, 4½-1½; 5th: Yian Liou, Konstantin Kavutskiy, Takashi Kurosaki, 4-2; U2200: Joshua Gutman, 4½-1½; 2-3 U2200: Vincent Huang, Eric Zhang, 4-2, U2000: Dennis Saccuzzo, 3½-2½; 2nd-3rd U2000: Cheston Gunawan, Alicia Bolm, Numan Abdul-Majeeb, 3-3

1st: Alfred Ong, 5½-½; 2-3: Michael Chaney, Robert Barker, 4½-1½; U1600: Chantelle Field, 4-2; 2-3 U1600: Cijo Paul, Annie Wang, Jerry Qu, 3-3; U1400: Leo Creger, 4-2; 2-3 U1400: Aman Madhav, James Holder, 3-3; U1200: Young Hong, Gia Peterson, 2-4; Unrated: Bhanu Narayana, 5-1.

Scholastic Open: Karl Tolentino, 5-0. Scholastic Reserve: Brian Santoso, 4½-½.

Hex 1: Alexander Pearson, 3-0; Hex 2: Stephanie Shao, 3-0.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pacific Southwest Open, day 3

As we enter the final stretch, GM Melikset Khachiyan remains in the lead with 4.5/5, after drawing with young master Yian Liou (see photo). In the final round Khachiyan will face High School star Vincent Huang, while Liou will meet IM Tim Taylor on board 2. In the U1800 section, Alfred Ong stands alone in first with 5-0, though three players have a chance to cath up. Click here for complete standings.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pacific Southwest Open, day 2

With all schedules merged, GM Melikset Khachiyan leads the field with 4-0. A surprising 2nd is young master Yian Liou with 3.5, who will face Khachiyan in round 5. In the Amateur section, Alfred Ong leads with 4-0, followed by Brian Glover and Michael Chaney (who took byes in the last two rounds) on 3.5. In the one-day Scholastics, Karl Tolentino scored 5-0 in the Open, and Brian Santoso topped the Reserve with 4.5. Click here for standings, or here for round 5 pairings,

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Pacific Southwest Open, day 1

The 3-day schedule of the 50th Annual Pacific Southwest Open is under way with 56 players. Another 30 or so are expected to join the 2-schedule tomorrow, including (probably) top-rated GM Melikset Khachiyan, Standings will be posted here, and pairings (as time permits) here.

Cheston Gunawan - IM Tim Taylor

[C58] Two Knights Defense

Pacific Southwest Open, round 1

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Nf6 4.Ng5 d5 5.exd5 Na5 6.Bb5+ c6 7.dxc6 bxc6 8.Bd3 Bc5 9.0–0 0–0 10.Nc3 Bb6 11.Be2 Nd5 12.d3 Nb7 13.Bf3 h6 14.Nge4 f5 15.Ng3 Be6 16.Re1 Bc7 17.Nf1 Qf6 18.Qe2 Rae8 19.g3 Nc5 20.Bg2 e4 21.Nxd5 cxd5 22.d4 Nd7 23.c3 f4 24.Bxf4 Bxf4 25.gxf4 Qh4 26.Ne3 Rxf4 27.f3 Nf6 28.Rf1 Qg5 29.Kh1 Rh4 30.f4 Qg3 31.Kg1 Qxh2+ 32.Kf2 Ng4+ 33.Nxg4 Rxg4 34.Rg1 Qg3+ 35.Kf1 Rxf4+ 0–1

Saturday, June 5, 2010

USCF Election: Vote we must if vote we can

By this time most members should have received ballots for the USCF special election, wrapped around the June Chess Life. The election is to choose two Board members to fil out the remaining year of ousted EB members Susan Polgar and Paul Truong. Three people are running. Two of them are worth voting for.

Mike Nietman is a long-time organizer from Wisconsin. I don't know him well, but those who do speak highly of him. He is best know as a scholastic person, which is not a plus in my book, but not disqualifying either. He impressed me last year in Indianapolis by trying to wrest control of the U.S. Open from the iron grip of the USCF office and return it to the local organizers where it belongs. Recommended.

Gary Walters is a successful attorney, a strong and active postal player, and a fairly active OTB player (Class A) when his schedule permits. He has an excellent chess blog, which to his credit has only rarely mentioned the campaign. During the Polgar upleasantness, his comments on the USCF Forums were unusual in displaying both understanding of the issues and common sense. Recommended.

The Other Candidate -- whose name I won't mention, but it rhymes with "groan" -- has run for the Board at every opportunity for the last two or three decades. Before OMOV -- when the voters actually knew who and what he was -- he generally had trouble breaking into two figures. (And I have a nasty suspicion that most of those were because the USCF refused to count votes for Donald and Mickey.) But every nut has a hard kernel, and in 2006, an off-year election when few were paying attention and three other candidates split the sane-people vote, he earned a one-year term. He accomplished a lot in a year -- drove away sponsors, provoked lawsuits, and made the USCF a source of innocent merriment to the world. A few of his supporters who are again allowed to hold pointed objects have written that he'd tell us what's happening in the USCF. No doubt he would. Whether it actually happened or not. When pigs fly.

Please vote. Every ballot not cast increases the chance that Other Candidate and his cadre of crackpots might slip through. That would be Very Bad for the USCF.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Memorial Day Classic, day 2

As the final round begins, John Daniel Bryant and IM Jack Peters face off on Board 1 with 3.5/4. On Board 2, IM Tim Taylor, also with 3.5, seeks to hold off IM Enrico Sevillano with 3. Julian Landaw and Alex Kretchetov round out the list of contenders with 3-1. Top-ranked IM Andranik Matikozyan withdrew after losses to Bryant and Gregg Small. Standings are posted here, and will be updated as sections finish.

IM Enrico Sevillano (2542) – Julian Landaw (2322) [C54]

Lina Grumette Memorial Day Classic (2), 22.05.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bc4 Bc5 4.c3 Nf6 5.d4 exd4 6.cxd4 Bb4+ 7.Nc3 Nxe4 8.0–0 Bxc3 9.d5 Bf6 10.Re1 Ne7 11.Rxe4 d6 12.Bg5 Bxg5 13.Nxg5 0–0 14.Nxh7 Kxh7 15.Qh5+ Kg8 16.Rh4 f5 17.Be2 Bd7 18.Qh7+ Kf7 19.Rh6 Rg8 20.Bh5+ Kf8 21.Rf6+ 1–0

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lina Grumette Memorial Day Classic

After the merge, four players share the lead with 2-0: IMs Enrico Sevillano, Andranik Matikozyan and Jack Peters, and Senior Master John Bryant. In round 3, Peters faces Sevillano and Matikozyan battles Bryant. Standings will be posted throughout the tournament, and pairings will be posted here as time permits.

John Daniel Bryant (2444) – IM Andranik Matikozyan (2564) [B24]

Lina Grumette Memorial Day Classic (3), 22.05.2010

1.e4 c5 2.Nc3 Nc6 3.g3 g6 4.Bg2 Bg7 5.d3 Rb8 6.f4 b5 7.e5 Bb7 8.Be3 d6 9.Qe2 dxe5 10.fxe5 Nd4 11.Bxd4 Bxg2 12.Qxg2 cxd4 13.Qc6+ Kf8 14.Ne4 Bxe5 15.Nf3 Bg7 16.0–0 Qb6 17.Qd5 e6 18.Qd7 Rd8 19.Ne5 Rxd7 20.Nxd7+ Ke7 21.Nxb6 axb6 22.a4 1–0

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Western Pacific Open, day 2

With all sections merged, the total is 86 players, including 2 GMs and six IMs. Four p[erfct scores remain after two rounds: Ramirez and Sevillano battle on board 1, while Shankland and Stopa face of on board 2. We will post standings and pairings throughout the weekend as available.

IM Jack Peters (2413) – Luke Harmon-Vellotti (2092) [C04]
Western Pacific Open Los Angeles (3), 24.04.2010
1.e4 e6 2.d4 d5 3.Nd2 Nc6 4.Ngf3 Nf6 5.e5 Nd7 6.Be2 f6 7.exf6 Qxf6 8.Nf1 Bd6 9.Ne3 0–0 10.0–0 Qg6 11.c4 Nf6 12.c5 Be7 13.b3 Nd7 14.Bb2 Nd8 15.Bd3 Qe8 16.Re1 c6 17.Ng4 Qh5 18.h3 b6 19.Nfe5 Nxe5 20.Rxe5 Qe8 21.Qc2 g6 22.Rae1 Bf6 23.Bc1 Bg7 24.Bh6 Nf7 25.Bxg6 hxg6 26.Nf6+ Kh8 27.Qxg6 1–0

Garush Manukyan (2359) - GM Melikset Khachiyan(2619) [E05]
Western Pacific Open Los Angeles (3), 24.04.2010
1.d4 Nf6 2.Nf3 e6 3.g3 d5 4.Bg2 Be7 5.0–0 0–0 6.c4 dxc4 7.Nc3 Nc6 8.e3 Rb8 9.Nd2 Na5 10.Qa4 b6 11.Nxc4 Bd7 0–1

Indra Lahiri (1966) – Leo Kamgar (1713)]
Western Pacific Open Los Angeles (3), 24.04.2010
1.Nf3 d5 2.g3 Nf6 3.Bg2 c6 4.0–0 Bf5 5.d4 e6 6.c3 Bd6 7.Nbd2 h6 8.Re1 Ne4 9.Nh4 Bh7 10.Nxe4 dxe4 11.Bh1 Qc7 12.Ng2 Nd7 13.c4 g5 14.d5 e5 15.Bd2 c5 16.a3 0–0–0 17.b4 f5 18.bxc5 Nxc5 19.Bb4 Rhg8 20.Bxc5 Bxc5 21.e3 Rdf8 22.Re2 f4 23.Rd2 Qd6 24.Rb1 f3 25.Ne1 h5 26.Qb3 Rf7 27.Rdb2 h4 28.Qc3 b6 29.a4 a5 30.Nc2 Bf5 31.Na1 hxg3 32.hxg3 Rh7 33.Rxb6 Bxb6 34.c5 Rgh8 35.cxd6+ Kd8 36.Bg2 Rh2 37.Kf1 Rh1+ 0–1

Friday, April 23, 2010

Western Pacific Open, day 1

Though attendance is a bit low, especially in the bottom section, the 10th Annual Western Pacific Open can boast of two GMs (Melikset Khachiyan and Alejandro Ramirez, pictured) and six IMs (Enrico Sevillano, Sam Shankland, Jack Peters and Tim Taylor, currently playing, and Jacek Stopa and Andranik Matikozyan, who will join the 2-day schedule tomorrow). Standings and games will be posted throughout the weekend, possibly pairings as well if time permits.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

At odds

The practice of playing games "at odds" has more or less died out. A pity, really; removing a Knight or Rook from the board before the first move can allow a competitive contest between players of vastly different strength. Of course, this was one of the reasons for its popularity a century ago, for the range of playing ability between master and amateur was usually enormous.

Several kinds of odds were popular then. First, odds of pawn (remove White's f-pawn), followed by pawn and move (remove Black's f-pawn) and pawn and two (the same, but give White two initial moves). Some argued that this was a greater advantage than odds of Knight (remove White's Knight from b1), though there was not much doubt about Rook or Queen odds, which could only be given by the very strong -- or to the very weak. A few other odds were occasionally conceded, but the only one much remembered is that of capped piece -- the master would give odds of naming the piece with which he must give mate, leaving him with, in effect, two Kings. In one extreme example, James Mortimer gave odds of capped f-pawn; the game, unfortunately, is long and rather dull.

Here is an example of the sort of play seen in odds games: Morphy-Maurian, New Orleans 1857

(Remove White's Queen Knight)

1. e4 e5 2. f4 exf4

With the King's Gambit, White offers a pawn for rapid development and an open file.

3. Nf3 g5 4. Bc4 g4 5. d4 gxf3 6. Qxf3 d5 7. Bxd5 c6 8. Bxf7+ Kxf7 9. Qh5+ Kg7 10. Bxf4 Be7

At last Black develops something, but the White Rook is ready to join the battle.

11. O-O Qxd4+ 12. Na3 a6 13. Kh1 Qxe4 14. Rae1

The advantage of giving odds! If White's Knight were still at b1, Black might be able to defend.

14. ... Qg6


15. Rxe7+ Kf8

Black cannot play 15. ... Nxe7, for then 16. Bh6+ leads to mate -- 16. ... Qxh6 17. Qf7 mate, or 16. ... Kg8 17. Rf8 mate.

16. Bd6+, Black resigns

For Black is mated after 16. ... Nf6 17. Rxf6+ Qxf6 18. Qe8.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

War of words

"I tried to fianchetto, but his zwischenzug put me in zugzwang until he made a fingerfehler leaving his Queen en prise."

Conversation overheard at a chess club. It's not exactly in English, but then it's not quite in any other language either. If you want to blend in with the crowd, you'll have to learn to talk Chess.

En prise is an easy one; this French phrase means "in take," that is, undefended and subject to capture. If you leave a piece en prise, you have probably made a fingerfehler, or "slip of the finger"; the implication of this German word is that your hand acted without orders from the brain, and must take full responsibility.

Also from the German, come zwischenzug and zugzwang. The former means "in-between move": you capture one of your opponent's pawns, but rather than recapture at once, he takes your Queen "in between." Zugzwang is a bit more complicated. It translates as "move-compulsion," and refers to a situation in which a player loses only because he must make a move -- all the threats are defended, but a player may not "pass."

Fianchetto crept in from Italian, meaning "on the flank." This refers to a Bishop developed at g2 or b2 (or g7 or b7). Other Italian loan-words are Giuoco Piano ("quiet game"), an old opening, and (surprisingly) gambit, from a wrestling term meaning to trip up one's opponent.

And then there is Amaurosis schachistica, coined by Dr. Tarrasch. This pseudo-Latin term refers to a disease many suffer but few can cure: chess blindness.

Solution: Black's active Knights carry the day after 1. ... Qf3!. In view of the threat of mate on g2, White must capture, but after 2. gxf3 Nexf3+ 3. Kh1 Bh3, there is no defense to 4. ... Bg2 mate. Andruet-Spassky, Coblentz 1988.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

USATW final

The 27th Annual UI.S. Amateur Team West, held at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills February 13-15, had a good turnout of 48 teams, with 40 more in the one-day Scholastic Section. First place, and a trip to the playoff with the other three regional winners, went to Team OC, with Alexandre Kretchetov, Takashi Iwamoto, Ilia Serpik and Leo Kamgar. Matching their score of 5.5 but losing out on tiebreak, were ACA: 64 Square Modern Warfare (Vadim Kudryavtsev, Christian Tanaka, Jared Tan and Eric Zhang). The Scholastic section went to We are BEYOND just beating you, on tiebrak over … well, another team from IM Kongliang Deng's "Beyond Chess," BEYOND Chess kids.

Complete standings are posted at John Hillery directed, with assistance from Tom Langland, Anthony Ong, and Kenneth Poole.

1st: Team OC (Alexandre Kretchetov, Takashi Iwamoto, Ilia Serpik, Leo Kamgar), 5.5 (TB)
2nd: ACA: 64 Square Modern Warfare (Vadim Kudryavtsev, Christian Tanaka, Jared Tan, Eric Zhang), 5.5
3rd: Fourclosers (Ron Hermansen, Alessandro Steinfl, Tim Hanks, Jeffrey Cohen) 5-1
U2100: Look BEYOND what you see (rated 1880!)
U2000: Three Knights and a Queen
Temple City High School
Cloudy With a Chance of Meaterial
Chess Palace
College: Trojans Drink Jack Danyuls
Industrial: Northrop Grumman Advantage in Space
(over age 50): Tea Party for Five
Two and a Half Asians
High School:
University High School

Board Prizes
1) Enrico Sevillano, 5
2) Andranik Matikozyan, 5.5
3) Michael Brown, 5.5
4) Eric Zhang, 6
Alternate: Ezekiel Liu, 4

(Photo courtesy of Takashi Iwamoto.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Amateur Team West, day 2

After three rounds, four teams have perfect scores: Team OC, 64 Square Modern Warfare, Pawns on the Ground, and Please Wait (they hope to have a new name soon). No games have been submitted yet, but hear are some photos. We will continue to post standings and pairings as available. Tomorrow will be a bit hectic, as the scholastic tournament (at least 38 more teams) will join the action

Saturday, February 13, 2010

U.S. Amateur Team West, day 1

The 27th Annual U.S. Amateur Team West off to a good start at the Warner Center Marriott. Forty-eight teams (up 4 from last year) and more than 200 players are competing. Advance entries for Monday's Scholastic Amateur team are also promising (8, close to the record of 40). Standings will be posted throughout the weekend, and perhaps some games and photos as well.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Westwood Winter Open

The Westwood Winter Open, ninth in the series of one-day events at the LA Chess Club, had a good turnout of 46, led by GM Melikset Khachiyan and IM Tim Taylor. Standings will be posted throughout the day, and possibly a few games and photos if time permits.

Robert Akopian – IM Tim Taylor [C75]

Westwood Winter Open, 31.01.2010

1.e4 e5 2.Nf3 Nc6 3.Bb5 a6 4.Ba4 d6 5.0–0 Bd7 6.c3 Nge7 7.d4 Ng6 8.d5 Nb8 9.Bxd7+ Nxd7 10.c4 Be7 11.Nc3 h6 12.Bd2 Bg5 13.Nxg5 hxg5 14.g3 Nf6 15.Bxg5 Qd7 16.f3 0–0–0 17.Rf2 Rh5 18.Be3 Rdh8 19.b4 Qh3 20.Ne2 Ne8 21.c5 f5 22.Qf1 fxe4 23.fxe4 Nf6 24.cxd6 Qxf1+ 25.Raxf1 Nxe4 26.Rf7 Nxd6 27.Rxg7 Rxh2 28.Rc1 Rh1+ 29.Kg2 R8h2+ 30.Kf3 e4+ 31.Kg4 Ne5+ 32.Kg5 Rh5+ 33.Kf6 Ne8+ 0–1

Friday, January 22, 2010

Say not the struggle naught availeth ...

Good news for a change: the tangle of lawsuits between and among Susan Polgar, the USCF, assorted EB members and others is over. A settlement has been reached and a "Stipulation of Dismissal with Prejudice" has been submitted to the court. Regardless of who is to blame, the lawsuits have been a disaster for all parties, and ending them should be met with rejoicing by all except a few revanchists anxious to pursue a crusade with other peoples' money.

For the full text of the court filing, click here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Write Stuff

Want to start a chess library? You have a lot to choose from. It has been estimated that more books have been written about chess than about all other games combined.

A good place to start is Lasker's Manual of Chess, by Emanuel Lasker. Written by the philosopher-champion who held the title for 27 years, this old favorite gives a good basic introduction, chapters on combinations and planning, and some common-sense opening analysis. If the philosophizing gets too thick, skip to the games.

For opening study, multi-volume tomes can wait until you're a master. Ideas Behind the Chess Openings, by Reuben Fine, emphasizes understanding rather than memorization. Modern ideas about the middlegame are best learned from the source, My System by Aron Nimzovich. And the endgame need not be a mystery: try Chess Endings -- Essential Knowledge, by Yuri Averbakh.

Game collections should be the heart of any player's library. The best players are not always the best writers, but four world champions stand out -- My Best Games of Chess by Alexander Alekhine, 100 Selected Games by Mikhail Botvinnik, My 60 Memorable Games by Bobby Fischer, and, if you have the time and money, the multi-volume My Great Predecessors series by Gary Kasparov. (Some have suggested it be called My Predecessors Who Were Almost As Great As I Am, but that's another story.) Anthologies are legion, but two of the best are 500 Master Games by the witty and erudite Savielly Tartakover, and Masters of the Chessboard, from the great theoretician Richard Reti.

And for fun? Look up The Even More Complete Chess Addict by Mike Fox and Richard James. This collection of games and anecdotes, lists and lore, belongs on every true addict's bookshelf.

Diagram: White combines the motifs of discovered attack and the intermediate move to win a piece: 1. e6! Nxd4 (Much the same comes of 1. ... Bxd4, while 1. ... fxe6 or 1. ... Qxe6 2. Qxg7 wins easily) 2. exd7+! Kxd7 3. Nexd4. Zeller-van Parreren, Hastings 1979.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dividing Line

Instructional books will tell you that an advanced pawn may become weak in an endgame. But in the middlegame, it is a different story. A strong advanced pawn can cut the enemy position in two, and defending pieces are of little use if they cannot reach the
threatened sector.

An example is Richter-Engels, Bad Saarow 1937:

1. e4 c5 2. Nf3 d6 3. Be2 Nc6 4. d4 cxd4 5. Nxd4 Nf6 6. Nc3 g6 7. 0-0 Bg7 8. Be3 0-0 9. Qd2

White commits himself to giving up one of his Bishops for a Knight, but he will gain time to begin his attack.

9. ... Ng4 10. Bxg4 Bxg4 11. f4

White threatened 12. f5, followed by 13. h3 and 14. g4, trapping the Bishop.

11. ... Bd7 12. Rad1 Rc8 13. Qf2 Na5 14. f5 Nc4 15. Nd5 Nxe3

Two Knights against two Bishops, and in an open position -- but the Knights have taken up strong posts in the center, and they will not be easy to dislodge.

16. Qxe3 Re8

Black cannot afford to go pawn-hunting with 16. ... Bxd4 17. Rxd4 Rxc2, since 18. Qh6! sets up the dual threats of 19. Nxe7+ Qxe7 20. f6, and 19. e5 followed by 20. Rh4. A bit better than the game would be 16. ... e6, but White has a big edge after 17. f6 exd5 18.
fxg7 Kxg7 19. exd5.

17. Qf2 e6 18. Ne3 Kh8 19. f6 Bf8 20. e5!

White wants to bring his Knight from d4 to g5 via f3, without losing the f6-pawn. With the opening of the d-file, the White Rook joins the battle, and the Black Queenside pieces will be spectators for the rest of the game.

20. ... dxe5 21. Nf3 Qc7 22. Ng5 Kg8 (diagram) 23. Nxh7!

White begins an elegant mating combination, based on the thorn at f6.

23. ... Kxh7 24. Qh4+ Kg8 25. Rf3!

Black is defenseless against the threat of 26. Rh3 and 27. Qh8 mate.

25. ... Bg7 26. Rh3 Kf8 27. Qh8+ Bxh8 28. Rxh8+ mate.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Century West Open final

Four players tied for first in the powerful Open section of the CWO. GM Melikset Khachiyan and IMs Andranik Matikozyan, Enrico Sevillano, and Panchen Wang all scored 4-1 to split the top money. Both of the other sections had clear winners, as Michael Taylor scored 4½ in the Premier (U1900), and James Holder 4-1 in the Amateur (U1500). David Meliksetyan also had 4-1, but could win only the Unrated prize. Below is a list of prize winners, or click here for complete standings af all section.

Prize winners


1st-4th: GM Melikset Khachiyan, IM Andranik Matikozyan, IM Enrico Sevillano, IM Panchen Yang, 4-1; 5th: IM Jack Peters, Alexander Kretchetov, 3½-1½; U2400: IM Emory Tate, 3½-1½;U2300: Ron Hermansen, 3½-1½; U2200: 1st-2nd: Konstantin Kavutkskiy, Ankit Gupta, 3-2; 3rd U2200: Takashi Kurosaki, Samuel Sevian, 2½-2½; U2100/U2000: Bobby Hall, Austin Cambon, Benjamin de Vera, 2-3.


1st: Michael Taylor, 4½-½; 2nd: Daniel Mopusseri, Numan Abdul-Mujeeb, 4-1; 4th: David Minasyan, 3½-1½; U1700: 1st: Richard Martin, 3-2; 2nd: Alexander Garber, 2½-2½; 3rd: Jonathan Gunn, Joshua Sheng, 2-3.


1st: James Holder, 4-1; 2nd: Beverley Woolsey, 3½-1½; 3rd: Mehul Prakash Oswal, 3-2; U1300: Robert Bryan Martin, 2-3; Unrated: David Meliksetyan, 4-1.

Scholastic Open: Karl Tolentino, 5-0

Scholastic Reserve: Matthew Poh, Bryan Goldenberg, 4-1

Hexes: Albert Lu, Tony Kukavica, 2½-½

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Century West Open

This new event (I've used the name before, but not for quite the same thing) had a somewhat anemic turnout of 60, though things could still pick up with tomorrow's scholastic. The top section is very strong, however -- already in round 2, Khachiyan battled Joel Banawa, Sevillano faced Kretchetov, and Peters squared off with Tim Taylor. Photos are from round 3, as IM Puchen Wang faces Khachiyan, and Sevillano, Peters. Complete standings (and pairings when time permits) will be posted here.

Vadim Kudryavtsev (2275) – IM Puchen Wang (2531) [D16]

Century West Open (2), 09.01.2010

1.Nf3 Nf6 2.c4 c6 3.d4 d5 4.Nc3 dxc4 5.a4 Na6 6.e4 Bg4 7.Bxc4 Bxf3 8.gxf3 e6 9.Rg1 Nb4 10.Be3 g6 11.Qb3 Qc7 12.0–0–0 Be7 13.Kb1 0–0 14.Bh6 Qxh2 15.Bxf8 Rxf8 16.Rgf1 a6 17.a5 Qc7 18.Qa4 Qf4 19.Be2 Rd8 20.Qb3 Qc7 21.Qa4 Qf4 22.Qb3 Qc7 23.Qa4 b5 24.axb6 Qxb6 25.e5 Nh5 26.Rd2 Rxd4 27.Qd1 c5 28.Rg1 Ng7 29.Rg4 Nf5 30.Bc4 Kg7 31.Ne2 Rxd2 32.Qxd2 Qc6 33.Re4 h5 34.Ng3 Nd4 35.Qd1 a5 36.Re3 Bg5 37.Ra3 Qc7 38.Re3 Bxe3 39.fxe3 Qxe5 40.exd4 Qxg3 41.dxc5 Qe5 42.Qg1 h4 0–1

Ryan Porter (2318) – John Daniel Bryant (2453) [A43]

Century West Open (3), 09.01.2010

1.d4 c5 2.d5 e6 3.e4 d6 4.Nc3 exd5 5.Nxd5 Nf6 6.Bg5 Be7 7.Nxe7 Qxe7 8.f3 Nc6 9.Qd2 Be6 10.c4 h6 11.Bh4 Nxe4 12.Bxe7 Nxd2 13.Bxd6 Nxf1 14.Bxc5 Bxc4 15.Ne2 0–0–0 16.Rxf1 Rhe8 17.Rf2 Ne5 0–1

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Eternal Election

It's been confirmed that Gary Walters and Mike Nietman will be running for the Executive Board. Both are perfectly decent candidates, though I want to see some position statements before saying anything more. Reports are that Sam Sloan also wants to run (again) but has so far been unable to find thirty signatures. We can only hope.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

End of the tunnel?

It appears that a settlement may be near in the Polgar v USCF money pit. Wick Deer has some sensible things to say about it at his USCF Poltics Blog.

Friday, January 1, 2010


Left your Queen en prise, did you? Overlooked that mate in one? No need to be depressed; it happens to the best of us. A game of chess is a struggle, not a mathematical exercise. Under pressure of the opponent and the clock, errors are inevitable.

Some blunders are due to overconfidence. A notorious example is the first game of the Spassky-Fischer match in 1972. In a quite equal position, Fischer captured a pawn, allowing his Bishop to be trapped. He had seen a way out, but stopped his analysis one move too soon. (That Fischer’s confidence not misplaced can be seen from the final score – despite this gift he won the match 12½-8½.)

Others result from relaxing too soon. In 11th game of their 1986 match, Anatoly Karpov had just about equalized against Garry Kasparov. One careless move allowed a flashy, but not very difficult, Queen sacrifice to end the game. (As a sidelight, Karpov devoted several pages in one of his books to proving that his blunders were better than the blunders of other world champions.)
And still others result from the character of the player himself. In his 1951 match with Mikhail Botvinnik, challenger David Bronstein sought to prove that Botvinnik’s scientific approach to the game was not the only one – for Bronstein was a creative artist more than a competitor. In the sixth game, after a fierce struggle, White at the 56th move had only to return his Knight to play, with a check, to eliminate Black’s last pawns and make a draw. But then Bronstein began to think about the position back at move eight. He thought for 45 minutes and ... touched the wrong piece. He soon had to resign. The final score of the match: 12-12 ...

Diagram: From a game von Popiel-Marco. Monte Carlo 1902. Black, seeing that he could no longer defend his pinned Bishop at d4, resigned. But after 1. ... Bg1!, the doomed Bishop makes a powerful discovered attack – threatened with 2. ... Qxh2 mate, White would have to lose his Queen.