Sunday, November 16, 2008

91 Players in Orland!?

91 players in Orland Park? The title even looks surreal. This month attendance exploded, and we almost ran out of space. Next month it would be amazing to try to top 100! We will be raffling off prizes for the Holidays as we did last year.

Our very first Orland scholastic two years ago had a whopping 6 players. Six, that is not a typo. To come this far and give players in this area a place to play without driving an hour has been one of my bigger achievements in chess.

The Illinois All Grade

I meant to blog about this event during the week, but I have to admit that I needed a little time to recover. 485 players, it was our largest event yet. Most of the people I have spoken with about the event seemed pleased with it, which is nice because of the hundreds of hours of logistics and prep work that goes in before that day.

But of course, the big story was the kids. Results can be found at

It was amazing to see how many talented kids there are in our area. It would not surprise me at all to see many of them place well at Supernationals next year.

One little proud anecdote from the event for me. As I was at the podium reading off the team results for the 5th grade section, it had occurred to me that earlier when I had spoken with a parent from Noonan (where I teach), he had mentioned that Noonan was in 3rd place in that section after a could of rounds. Since 5th place and 4th place had already been called out, my eyes scanned up to see if we had gotten 3rd, we hadn't. I continued scanned until it hit me that there we were in first place. I literally froze up at the podium to the point where Alice Holt who was handing out the trophies walked over to me and asked what was wrong, or if I was ok. I pointed to the results with a proud smile, and said, just taking a moment to savor this, she laughed and I went back to reading wondering if the team knew yet. When I read off the second place team, they started jumping around. Not sure when the last time a team from the south suburbs won a state chess title, but it was awfully gratifying to be there for this one.

Palatine HS and Sean Fisher-Rohde were exceptional hosts that hopefully will welcome us back in 2010. The TD staff had many of the best in the business in Wayne Clark, Jeff Wiewel, Mike Zacate, Betsy Dynako, Gary Janssen, Chris Merli, and Elizabeth Villaflor. And we would have been completely lost without the wonderful volunteering and support of Alice Holt, Margaret Drier, Maret Thorpe, Jon Burgess, Jerry Neugarten, Andi Rosen, Eric Rosen, Trevor Magness, and apologies to anyone that I may have missed.

Also, to any of the top finishers from the event or their coaches that may be reading this, we are in the process of writing an article on the tournament for the Illinois Chess Bulletin. If you have a game you are proud of and would like to submit it for the article, please contact me.



Saturday, October 25, 2008

Scholastic results and Scheduling

Today was our first Orland Scholastic of the year, and we drew 42 players, which is about a 50% increase over last years October event. We have added a rated section which was dominated by wunderkind William Radak. William has been rocketing up the rating list and should be near 1600 now putting him near the top of his age group in the country, not bad for a second grader. Last week Shiva Maharaj dubbed him the "Harry Potter of chess" for his more than passing resemblance to the young Potter as well is his prowess on the board. The title drew a nice grin of approval and a high five from the young man.

Coming up next is the Illinois All Grade championships coming up on November 8th. So far registration has been a little slower than expected at about 240 right now, but we are still projecting that we break 400 for the event.


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Allan Hsu is a lowlife

Been away from blogging for a while now, and the scholastic chess schedule is now in full swing. Unfortunately, it seems as though despite there being fewer tournaments, the turnout among the players has actually decreased. Maybe that will be a column for another day.

We are also in week 9 of the US chess league season, where our Chicago Blaze is 4-4 playing against the Arizona Scorpions in a match that has significant playoff ramifications. A win puts our destiny in our own hands and even gives us a chance at the #2 seed, a draw and week 10 becomes a must win game. I will probably blog again after the match.

Anyways, lets get to the title of the post. Back in the wild west days of the internet, cybersquatting was a practice that was common and even lucrative. The idea was that you either vulture a domain name when it expired, or beat a person or a company to getting a website at what their natural name is. Apparently this practice is still common. Several years ago the Seattle Chess Foundation (aka the AF4C) had their site taken and turned into a porn site. Allan Hsu purchased the Illinois Chess Association's address, and is holding it for ransom for $3000. To do this to a non-for-profit group is despicable. If you would like to tell Allan what you think of his doing this, you can contact him at
To get to the real ICA website, please go to


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Blaze take on the Sluggers

Monday night the Chicago Blaze take on the Seattle Sluggers and their creepy overcaffeinated knight mascot. As we are sitting at 1.5-1.5 we are on pace to make the playoffs which can be done with a 5-5 result. Seattle presents and interesting challenge as they will be putting out their 2 GM lineup, and we are out rated on 3 of the 4 boards.

The US chess league seems to be a large game of rock, scissors, paper and while the Seattle 2 GM lineup creates matchup problems this week, it probably gets no better than a draw against most balanced lineups that it would see. This is a must win matchup for seattle as dropping to 1-3 cripples their playoff chances. It also sets up what may become a rather heated rivalry due to the accusations Nakamura aimed at Mitkov a couple years ago in Vegas.

I still like our chances as we are coming off a big win last week, and are playing well. Thankfully it is an internet match so the 11 year old boys in the area are safe from Nakamura's rantings.


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Colias best game prizes

We are pleased to announce the best game prizes for the Colias Invitational from last month. For the Class player section, Richardson-Djordjevic wins the prize. For the master sections, Tate-Gratz was selected. As soon as I figure how to add games to my blog, I will post them here with annotations.

This week the Blaze have a featured Monday night matchup against the Seattle Sluggers. We have a bit of an uphill struggle as we are outrated on 3 of the 4 boards, but our team has been playing well lately, and upsets happen.


Sunday, August 31, 2008

Visiting the St. Louis Chess Club

As every year at this time I am sentenced to hard labor day time in South Central IL (not LA), I decided I would make a break for it this year and drive the hour to St. Louis and check out the chess club that has gotten so much pub. That and I really did not want to see one more meal that was fried, pork, or fried pork. So I drove down.

First, the neighborhood is exceptionally cool. Right off of the Wash U campus, the homes are beautiful and brick, there are tons of outdoor cafes, and stores, and coffee shops, not to mention a Vodka bar just around the corner for the Russian GMs that want to stop by.

You walk in, and it has the feel of a nice apartment building or downtown office as you come to the granite countered kiosk and are greeted. The floors are a dark hardwood, everything else is themed black and white. The place is immaculate, and they must have made the plasma TV salesman happy as there are like 15-20 of them in the place.

There are three levels to the club, the basement has a library full of chess books and magazines, as well as about 20 boards, all with chairs with the STLCC logo etched into the back of them. The main floor has about 8 boards, and is for informal play. There are also the plasma sets showing Diana Thater's video artwork. The upper level has about another 20 boards, and is the tournament hall.

Right now they have about 250 members, and are looking for a resident GM to give lessons as well as play and work there. Tournaments are weekly, and we will see both the US Championship and Women's championship there next year.

It really is too bad that we don't see more places like this in other cities. The one question I did not get answered is what will happen to the vibrant club at the St. Louis Bread Company? Will this new club kill it?

My next blog will likely be on Wednesday during the Chicago Blaze-San Francisco Mechanics USCL match. Tune in at 7:30 to watch.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Blaze drop close opener to Arizona

Last night I was hoping to make it to the Altounian home in Tucson to watch the Blaze take on the Scorpions first hand, unfortunately my three year old had other plans for us so I had to rely on the kindness of others to text me with updates. We lost the match 2.5-1.5, and take on San Francisco next week.

The highlight was the crushing victory of Ilan Meerovich over 2007 Denker winner Warren Harper. The next few weeks we will be trying some different lineups, and GM Nikola Mitkov will be back to anchor board one. The league is a bit new to us right now, but we have a fantastic roster top to bottom as well as great support from assistant manager Tom Panelas, resident tech geek Sevan Muradian, master blogger Brad Rosen, TD Betsy Dynako.

I have to admit, I was highly annoyed by Arun Sharma, who has never met many of our players, or even spoken to any of our management group, decided to publicly question our dedication. Arun, your prediction was spot on for the first match, I give you credit as a prognosticator, but apparently your journalism skills are quite lacking.


Sunday, August 24, 2008


Sorry for the lack of updates. I have been in Arizona for the last few days enjoying the 105+ degree heat. Actually I have gotten to visit several chess friends, hung out with my 3 year old, and even got to see a baseball game (more on that later).

Tomorrow I am hoping to get down to Tucson, for two reasons, to watch our Chicago Blaze battle the Arizona Scorpions at their den. The other reason is because the best Mexican food in the country is found in Tucson. I need to get to the little Cafe Poca Cosa, or I could even settle for El Charro, or any number of places down there.

Our first match should be enjoyable to track. I think the team will get stronger as we go along, and we will be trying some different lineups nearly every week to get a feel for how the team plays. Arun Sharma gives his predictions on the US Chess League season on their site, which predict us for 6th. We will give it our best attempt to make him look bad. We are a little outrated in this first match, but I still like our chances.

Today I was able to get the Chase Field (formerly the BOB), to watch the Dbacks and the Marlins face off. What a great park and experience! Visiting parks is a hobby of mine, so this was a treat. The seats were great along the 1st base line (angled to face home plate), food selection was top notch, the weather was 105 outside but probably a comfortable 80 or so inside the yard. Misty May Treanor just back from Beijing threw out the first pitch, John McCain was on hand to watch. Of the parks I have visited, here is how I would rank them:

1. Pac Bell, San Francisco: Stunning views, great food, older park feel with newer park convenience, nice features such as the statues and the free viewing area outside of the park through the fence, and a cool lively area.

2. Chase Field, Arizona: Just a really well thought out park. Engineeringwise, this place is amazing, the area is getting more stuff to do. It is kind of like if you were a kid and trying to design the perfect park (natural grass, dome, great food, cool area, very kid friendly, wonderful sight lines, it is all there). The one feature that I don't think most fans care for is the Upper deck looks even steeper to the old upper deck at the current Comiskey park.

3. PNC Park, Pittsburgh: Ok, so the Pirates aren't very good, but the park makes up for some of it. The Megatron with the sound system looks like it was taken from a Vegas casino with the sound and picture quality. Some of the best scenic views of any park.

4. Coors Field, Colorado: This is the most fun stadium to watch batting practice in. An absolutely huge and beautiful park, not very expensive either. The lo-do neighborhood is great to visit.

5. Turner Field, Atlanta: In some ways, very similar to Coors, a really nice looking park, though a bit harder to get to.

6. Commiskey, Chicago: Screw US Cellular, this will always be Commiskey to Sox fans. Yes, I am putting it ahead of Wrigley. This park is convenient, and while I disliked it when it opened, hard not to when we saw the parks right after it but it continuously improves every year.

7. Wrigley, Chicago: Great history, fun neighborhood and that is where the positives end. Parking is terrible, the sightlines are poor, food poor, I don't even know where to start about the bathrooms. Yes, it is a great place to spy beautiful women, but the tickets are costly and perhaps the dumbest fans in baseball that go do games. Disclaimer, I do actually like the Cubs too. I think they use the "Go Cubs Go" song to torture prisoners in Guantanimo.

8. Busch Stadium, St. Louis: Some of the best fans in baseball, a nice downtown location, but a completely non-descript new stadium.

9. Jacobs Field, Cleveland: I really thought I would love this park, fun area downtown, but as I entered the park I noticed a few things. For a newish park, it looks rather run down. The food selection there is poor. Sightlines are average. They do get some points for the yankee stadium style monuments by center field though.

What are some of your favorite parks?


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Central IL Road trip

Over the last two days I have had to do a little traveling for work, and drove to several places in central IL. No, for any north siders happening to read this, Frankfort is not in Central IL!

I had the good fortune to be able to drop by Colley Kitson's new chess club yesterday (, and came away very impressed. First, the building is beautiful, with high ornate ceilings, projection TV, and Colley's collection of wooden sets and boards on all of the tables. Next, it is located in the downtown area surrounded by shops, pubs, and restaurants which seemed to be a fun area. I came away wishing Chicago and its suburbs had something like this. In a couple of weeks I will likely be getting down to St. Louis and see the new club down there.

One last thing that cracked me up, on my way back up, I was passing through the booming town of Nokomis, and saw a sign on the door of the local watering hole that said, " Central IL trianthlon. This Olympic quality event included pool, darts, and bowling. There is no word if that was a qualifier for the redneck games.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Snake Oil Salesmen

Just the term conjures up the image of the old time shifty salesman going from town to town pushing their dubious product on an unsuspecting public. Those days are still here, and I am not talking about the mass amount of emails that we get.

My Mother-in-law came this week to visit us, and brought in tow a lovely bottle of Acai berry juice. She talked about how many anti-oxidants there are, and how she bought it from a friend who was a distributor, and how that friend wanted to set her up as a distributor and see if my mother in law would be able to set others up. Of course, for each level that you or one of your underlings sets up, you get a piece of the pie. Yes, a classic pyramid scheme. I asked how much this bottle of juice cost her and she told me that she bought a case for $100. How many bottles in a case? 4. So why did she pay $25 for a bottle of fruit juice? Hope! Everybody hopes that they will feel better, and this scam takes advantage of it. A couple of years ago, mangosteen juice was the rage. A couple years earlier, it was grape seed extract.

How does this topic relate? Look at our very own USCF. A week ago was the USCF delegates meeting in Dallas. I hate chess politics, in fact anyone that sat through the meeting for four hours really needs their head examined. What is so bad about it is the agendas of self interest of the EB and delegates.

We have lawsuits flowing back and forth as people jockey for position, not to mention the threats of lawsuits which seem to be daily. It just means that our bottle of fruit juice is costing us $41 (and rising), and the health benefits have not yet been proven. Can this be solved? Not without a complete restructuring of USCF. First, put in an ED who doesn't have ED. By this I mean, the position is micromanaged so much by the EB and the delegates, that regardless of what one thinks of Bill Hall ( who is a very nice guy), he has no chance for success. Let the man do his job, or hire someone with a history of fundraising success with an open ended commission plan based on the dollars he or she brings in. Is an ED worth over a million who brings in 10 million in sponsorship? In my eyes he more than pays for himself. Hire good people and let them do their jobs, it is that simple. Who on the EB or the delegates has actual experience raising funds and doing what is needed?

I think perhaps one of the best shows ever on TV was Sports Night. This show was an Aaron Sorkin creation (and so much better than anything else he has done), and was about a struggling TV show. This link goes to a rather long clip that has a lot of parallels to this point. We do need more Cliff Gardners of the world. I hope you watch and enjoy.


Monday, August 11, 2008

Profit vs. Non-Profit Organizations

The topic comes up every once in a while for chess, is an organization that runs events for profit, or non for profit (NFP). Personally, I find the whole debate fruitless.

Generally, it is my experience that when someone is concerned with that question, they are asking because they believe that an NFP 1. Has lower profit margins and gives more back to the players, and 2. If they somehow do make a profit that it magically goes back and helps the community. As Todd Barre once said as ICA treasurer, "Just because it says Non-profit doesn't mean that we are trying to lose money".

NFPs that run tournaments have the same expenses as a FP group, they still have to pay rating fees, prize funds, TDs, site costs, advertising, etc. There is no guarantee that the money does anything more than go to the organizer. Conversely, I run my events for profit, and don't feel any need to apologize for it. I try to make sure that my tournaments run quickly, professionally, and that players have a pleasant experience. I put plenty of time into each event, not just at the site, but also before hand and afterwards (I am still doing the post work for the Colias). Some of the profits that I earn go towards donations to worthy chess causes, like schools and organizations. I am also putting together things like a free scholastic clinic, and of course the Colias Memorial tournament. I don't expect people to cry for me when I lose money, but I have to allow a profit to prepare for a losing event.

I was speaking with a professional player who was describing how most organizers have become mercenaries (which is pretty funny as most organizers feel that way about players). Ask a player how much money should go to the prize fund, and if they don't say all of it, 80% is expected. Sometimes this is realistic, other times it is not. For example, lets look at the upcoming Renaissance Knights Third Coast event. They have a $30 EF, and are basing a $700 prize fund on 40 players. If they reach their guarantee, players will get 58% of the entries back. If they only draw 20 players that number still remains about the same. Is that a reasonable profit? Players get to vote on that with their own $$.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Additional Blogs

I just wanted to bring into focus a couple of additional blogs that I have enjoyed lately. First, my good friend Theo Poulos has joined the blogosphere, and makes me wish that I could write as eloquently has he does. His blog is at

Also, with the political season near at hand has fantastic analysis. This site is the brainchild of Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus fame. Nate had the most accurate projections of any group during the primaries. His Baseball Prospectus site has notoriously strong projections as well, and gained a lot of press for Kenny Williams calling them out on their prediction of the WhiteSox going 72-90 last year, saying that the BP guys knew nothing of baseball. When they hit the projection dead on, Williams did not want to discuss it.

Just wanted to share the interesting reading.


Friday, August 8, 2008

Baseball Craziness

Yesterday evening I went to the Sox game with some out of town friends. Had a really great time, they just keep on improving that park which, I know this is sacriligious for many is so much nicer than going to Wrigley. Better food, better sight lines, better parking, more comfortable. Speaking of which, I go to the Cubs game today. I am one of those rare Chicagoans that actually likes both teams. Hey with one WS title in the last 200 seasons combined, we can't afford to be choosy.

I hate leaving Andrea at home without the car, so I went to Enterprise, where I rent from regularly. They really need a new training program. I know that they are trying to engage the customer, but I really can't stand the whole "where are you going? Do you have and fun big plans?" shtick. Is it really any of their business? I am always tempted to try to come up with some creative way to mortify them. "Am I going somewhere fun? That depends, is burying your grandmother fun?"

Let me put this offer out there. Whoever comes up with the most creative way to freak out one of the Enterprise rental people, and posts in on the blog, I will use it during my next rental and report back. In fact, if I can, I will even video tape the event. So loyal readers that is your challenge!

I was sad to see this week that Skip Caray passed away. He was really one of my favorite announcers with his dry wit and nasal tones. You could always count on Skip to liven up a blowout broadcast by casually dropping in an absurd question or story in his matter of fact way. I mean this in a nice way, but I spent many a Sunday afternoon watching TBS and relaxing and eventually napping during a Braves game.


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Increment Time controls and clock settings

Increment time controls are already the FIDE standard in Europe, and are likely to take off here in the states. The Miami International which takes place next month with a 100K prize fund appears to be the first major event stateside to use this. From running a few invitational events, it is apparent that there is some confusion as to rules with increments, so I thought I would address it.

First, what is increment, and why is it different from time delay? With time delay, simply the clock does not start ticking until the delay time (usually 5 seconds) has run out. With increments, you get a "bonus" amount of time added to your clock after you complete a move. Adding to the confusion, increment time controls are also called bonus, accumulating, Fischer, and there may be a couple others.

Are there different rules for this? Yes, the most notable rule is that regardless of the time left on a players clock, they must keep notating. As a TD and organizer, I love this, because complete gamescores are more common. As a player, the main difference is the feeling in time trouble. With regular delay controls, the pressure is constant. Such as, I have 30 seconds left on my clock, I must move quickly. During time pressure with an increment control, it comes and goes, and is easy to let your guard down. You may have 30 seconds, make 3-4 quick moves and be back over 2 minutes and start to relax. It is difficult to get used to.

Which clocks are capable of increment settings? Most recently manufactured European made clocks have it, and it is easy to find. But here, the two most common types of clocks, the Chronos and the Excalibur Game Time 2 both have it, though it is difficult to find and most players don't know it is there.

For the Chronos Blitz, it is right in the standard options. For the regular larger Chronos, you must go into the programming menu to the ChP5 setting and set the time control, and then scroll to where the delay would normally be set and set the increment. For the Excalibur, when you are in the programming menu, turn off the time delay, and turn on the Accum, set the Accum to the desired increment, and you are ready to go.


Monday, August 4, 2008

Colias Results

I am completely exhausted from the weekend's event, and now just want to sleep. But before I do, here are the results from the weekend, and also some commentary.

Before I get to the results, it is very important to thank the generous sponsorships of Tim McEntee and Robert Loncarevic, without whom this would not have been possible.

Section 1:
FM Peter Bereolos 5-0
NM Tim McEntee 3-2
CM Eric Rosen 3-2
FM Aleksander Stamnov 2.5-2.5
CM Larry Cohen 1-4
NM Len Weber 0.5-4.5

Bereolos dominated the section with precise technique. This ran Peter's unbeaten streak to 15 games at the even, and the performance rating for the tournament was over 2540!! Also impressive were the performances by 14 yo Eric Rosen (2277 performance) who demonstrated impressive poise and patience in his games, and by Tim McEntee.

Section 2:
IM Emory Tate 4.5-0.5
NM Tony Cao 3-2
NM Glen Gratz 3-2
NM Steven Tennant 2-3
CM Adam Strunk 1.5-3.5
CM Robert Loncarevic 1-4

I really can't wait to go over some of the games from this section as many of these were action packed. Tate's play was fantastic, I could study his game against Cao for hours and not find have the stuff these guys found over the board. Tony Cao and Glen Gratz shared 2nd-3rd, and were tremendous. Strunk found this year tougher goind after being a co-champion with Bereolos last year.

Section 3:

Vladimir Djordjevic 4-1
Sevan Muradian 4-1
Ryan Richardson 3-2
Theo Poulos 2-3
Leo Kirsch 2-3
Fred Gruenberg 0-5

This section was the product of a request by Ryan Richardson. The more I thought about it the more excited I got about having this section. It isn't often that class players get a chance to prep for each other and trade punches like the masters do in a Round Robin event. Trading punches is a good way to put it as the section was all about fighting chess. Not a single draw in the section for the whole event. I can't remember ever seeing that before. Vladimir got off to a torrid 3-0 start before being derailed by Richardson, who had a chance to tie for first going into his final round with Sevan. Sevan provide that organizing is not the only thing he can do well in chess. With how balanced the field was, I do wonder if the same players play again next year, if the result would be the same or completely different. I was extremely impressed with the sportsmanship exhibited in this section.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Colias Field

The field for the 4th Colias memorial is now set. We will be drawing lots tomorrow. The field for the top 2 sections are:

IM Emory Tate 2367
FM Peter Bereolos 2323
FM Aleksandr Stamnov 2239
NM Steven Tennant 2216
NM Tony Cao 2208
NM Tim McEntee 2200
NM Len Weber 2200
NM Glen Gratz 2133
Adam Strunk 2113
Robert Loncarevic 2048
Eric Rosen 2038
Larry Cohen 2022

For our class section, here are the lots and pairings:

1. Fred Gruenberg
2. Leo Kirsch
3. Sevan Muradian
4. Theo Poulos
5. Vladimir Djordjevic
6. Ryan Richardson

The pairings will thus be as follows:
Friday August 1 at 7PM:
Gruenberg - Richardson
Kirsch - Djordjevic
Muradian - Poulos

Saturday August 2 at 10AM:
Gruenberg - Kirsch
Djordjevic - Muradian
Richardson - Poulos

Saturday August 2 at 3PM:
Muradian - Gruenberg
Richardson - Kirsch
Poulos - Djordjevic

Sunday August 3 at 10AM:
Gruenberg - Poulos
Kirsch - Muradian
Djordjevic - Richardson

Sunday August 3 at 3PM:
Djordjevic - Gruenberg
Poulos - Kirsch
Muradian - Richardson

More to come.


Saturday, July 26, 2008


Ok, so it has been nearly a month since my last post. If people are still out there reading, let me tell you about some changes. I have gotten truly a little tired blogging about chess. There isn't much to talk about in regards to scholastic chess over the summer, and there are other things that I would like to talk about.

First, the 4th Billy Colias Memorial is next weekend. I will try to post updates on that each day while it is going on. For those of you not familiar with Billy, he was perhaps the strongest player to be homegrown in the midwest. He also was an outstanding chess teacher, and one of the more fun, interesting, and gregarious players I ever met. My favorite thing about Billy was watching him analyze games. I saw one game where he played an 1100 who blundered a queen horribly and went over it with the player. they got to the position where the queen was dropped, and Billy paused for a second. He then said wow, this is interesting, was your idea to do this? He then constructed a kingside attacking plan that was viable. The opponent perked up as Billy started talking about how creative an idea his opponent had. The opponent walked away feeling like a million bucks, and thats how many of us felt hanging out with Billy.

One of my absolute favorite things to follow is baseball. I am a bit of a junky, so I watch a lot of it. So this week when I read one of the dumber things ever by analyst and broadcaster Joe Morgan, I wanted to share it. According to Joe, on his ESPN chat, run differential is an overrated statistic. Yeah, it is really overrated to score more runs than your opponents. That has nothing to do with winning.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Thank you Palatine HS

It is official that we will be moving the 2008 Illinois All Grade Championships to Palatine HS. Mark Saturday, November 15th on your calendar. Tim Just and I did our final site visit yesterday, and this has the potential to be our finest scholastic event yet.

The tournament will take place in the gym, where there is a viewing area for parents and coaches from a mezzanine area with bleachers. The skittles room, book vendor, and food concessions will take place in the cafeteria which has room for about 600. Team rooms are nearby and available, feel free to contact me to arrange for one.

We are hoping to have flyers out, and our web site with registration up soon. I will post more details when available.


Monday, June 23, 2008

Belated Good-bye

Last week I happened to stop by the Park Forest Chess Club on the way back home after traffic school. I hadn't seen several of the players there in quite a while, so it was nice to catch up. Late in the evening, I asked Larry Cohen if he had seen Bernie Ostrowsky ( a club member) at all recently. Larry was kind enough to send me the article on Bernie's passing that I have linked to below from 2 years ago.

I highly recommend reading the article for comedic value. This is what sometimes happens when a non-chess person writes about chess events. In this article our valiant hero Bernie provides valuable propaganda for the cold war by holding evil Soviet GM Samuel Reshevsky to a draw. Great stuff, this newpaper writer would have had a great career penning the script for Rocky IV (darn, they were 25 years too late for that).

I played Bernie in my very first tournament (lost to him), and ever since had one of those friendly chess acquaintanceships where you take the time to ask how the other is doing every time you see them at a tournament, and of course wish them good luck. Bernie was an eccentric dude, not like there aren't that many people like that in our pastime, but he loved people. People like Bernie make up the fabric of our tournaments and are missed even by those that only knew him casually.


Saturday, May 31, 2008

Krush, Zatonskih and the US Womens title

I recently took the time to read Irina Krush's open letter on the USCF homepage. If you haven't read it, or followed the saga, the title of US Women's champion was decided by an armageddon game since the two players tied in the regular tournament. Armageddon is a silly handicap style blitz game that arguably has no place in determining a championship of any kind. In this type of game, the white player also gets extra time usually 7 minutes to the black players 5 minutes, and in exchange for this, a draw is a win for black.

In Irina's letter, she raises the concern that Anna was touching her pieces and starting to move before Irina finished her move, and why didn't a TD step in. I watched the youtube video multiple times, and like Irina, and anyone else that has seen it, there is no doubt that Anna was touching pieces prior to Irina hitting the clock. However, as it is announced at every scholastic event, and a rule that every player should know, if your opponent is doing something you do not like, stop the clock and make a claim to the TD. The fact that Irina did not make a claim is her own fault and by not doing so during the game, she waived the right to have a valid protest. Also, while Anna was guilty of this much more often, I saw one instance where Irina reaching for a piece prior to Anna hitting the clock actually blocked Anna's hand from getting to the clock. Basically both players had "bad blitz habits" as Irina called it.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Krush on a few occasions, and even had the privilege of going to dinner with a group of players including her at one event. She seems to be a very likeable person, and this letter smacks of sour grapes and IMO it is beneath her. She argues in one sentence that she did not know what was going on, as to why she didn't make a claim, but then argues that her poor sportsmanship of knocking the piece flying off the board at the end of the game was as the result of her opponent cheating. Well, which is it?

Many sporting events are decided by the narrowest of margins, the buzzer beater in basketball, the walkoff in baseball, the hail mary in football. The margin of victory does not diminish the achievement of the players involved. Congratulations to Irina, and also to our US Womens champion Anna Zatonskih.


Friday, May 23, 2008

Big Week for Blaze Members

All in the same week, congratulations to Yuri Shulman on winning the US Championship, Ilan Meerovich for winning the fantasy challenge for the US Championship, and Mehmed Pasalic on achieving his 3rd and final IM norm. Now we just need Jan VanDeMortel, Dmitry Gurevich, and Adam Strunk to have huge weekends at the Chicago Open to complete the week.


Friday, May 2, 2008

Lack of posts

Sorry for the lack of posts lately. Last weekend, I directed (3) tournaments. After a relaxing breather this weekend (will probably do a little hiking), I go to Pittsburgh where aside from watching perhaps the two lousiest MLB teams on the planet (Pittsburgh and San Francisco) I will be walking among the 2000+ kids at the National Elementary. Hopefully I can blog from the site.

I would advise those who are going to check their room reservations, in addition to the Westin being sold out, the Doubletree which used to be just down the street from the Westin relocated and is significantly further away.

One of the more unfortunate parts of this event is that at least two teams that have won their state K-3 championships are not able to play as teams (Illinois and California). This is because their districts have divided the schools into K-2, 3-4 and 5-6, so even though the kids play together as a team in state events, Nationally they can't. To me this takes some of the luster off of this as a championship event. I realize that there are politics at stake with these decisions, but IMO what is fair to the kids should be the primary basis for the rules by the scholastic council. Hopefully we will see this changed in the near future.


Monday, April 21, 2008

National HS Results

Three IL teams in the top 11! Chicago Blaze member Ilan Meerovich with 6 points putting him in a tie for 2nd-5th (5th on tiebreak). Congratulations to Niles North (3rd), Whitney Young (8th), and Stevenson (11th) for their tremendous results.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Happy 50th Park Forest

Before I get into the well wishing of the PFCC, HS Nationals starts today. It looks like there is a very nice turnout of 1230 players in Atlanta, including some strong HS teams from IL. Among the schools representing our state are state champion Stevenson, Niles North, and Whitney Young. It would not surprise me if all of them took prizes in the top 25 teams of the K-12 championship section, which looking at the pre-reg list is very strong.

With 340 players in that section accelerated pairings are being used, which means 1800 players are being fed to the 2200 plus rated monsters in the 1st round, rather harsh. The TD staff should be very well represented there with Walter Brown as the Chief TD, and David Hater getting his first opportunity as a floor chief. Of the Illinois schools I do predict Niles North to finish ahead as this is a format more structured to their strengths.

Now onto my friends at PFCC. 50 years is an extremely impressive accomplishment especially these days in the decline of the chess club. I first became acquainted with their club as a young player at the H-F and Orland Park chess clubs. They were kind of a rival club to us. We faced them in the Illinois Chess League, and many of us saw their players as targets to surpass ("the pizza buddies" as we called them). Over the years, our club peaked then declined and finally folded, while PFCC kept on going. I admire their stability. Hopefully they can build on their success.

A little story about the one of the last times I dropped by PFCC, it was a snowy evening that I felt the need to go out and play some chess, so I showed up at the site of the club at about 7:45 only to find the building locked and empty. I was confused by this since I wasn't that late, and they rarely cancelled the club (there obviously wasn't any conflicting events there that night). So I thought for a moment and decided to take a chance. Back in the late '80s when I would show up there every once in a while, and after the club adjourned, they always went directly to the Chicago Dough Company for pizza. So I went there, sure enough, there were 6 PFCC guys sharing a couple of pies. Now the strange thing to me was, here I am having not been to their club in nearly 20 years, and dropping by their haunt to find them. Not a single person at the table bothered to ask how I found them there. Stability, sometimes it is a good thing. Congratulations PFCC.


Tuesday, April 1, 2008

USCF introduces negative ratings

Crossville TN-- USCF announced today that the existing Elo system will be modified later this year. Ratings supervisor Walter Brown explained, "There seems to be a collection of players floored with 100 ratings, with no way to separate them. Some of these players are so bad that you can actually lose playing strength by watching their games." In the new system, a player losing to a 100 rated contestant would get a performance rating of -300 for that game. It is the same 400 points lower than the opponent as currently exists in the system, just with negative numbers. Any player playing a negative rating player will lose rating points even if they will the game. Any readers gullible to believe this by this point will also lose rating points.


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Weekend update and more applause

My last post went to press before Marc Arnold also clinched an IM norm at the last NACA FIDE event.

Despite spring break holding down attendance, it was a busy chess weekend. The Orland Scholastic on Saturday drew only 23 players which should be doubled or even tripled by the April event. The Kumbaya event today drew exactly 100 players which was also a little low but resulted in a speedy event with few hiccups. One of the highlights to me was watching the mass numbers of supremely talented 2nd and 3rd graders. Illinois has to be close to the tops in those age groups in the country. In fact after being told by two separate prominent IL chess coaches that they want to take out the NY powerhouse teams at Nationals, I would love to see an internet match between IL and NYC scholastics at the K-3 grades.

Also of significant importance this weekend were the Denker and Polgar qualifiers. For the Denker, there was a tie between experts Ilan Meerovich and Kayin Barclay (2 time IL rep to the Denker). With tiebreaks Ilan will rep our state. In the Polgar division, there were 48 players which was a very impressive showing and tied on top were Sonya Vohra and Victoria Bian, who with the generosity of the Susan Polgar will both be representing our state.

Late this week I hope to be blogging from Dallas at the National JH Championships.


Friday, March 28, 2008

Congratulations to Mehmed Pasalic

As the title says, congratulations FM Pasalic. For those of you that have not yet had the pleasure of meeting Pasalic, let me take a few moments to tell you a little about him.

Born in Bosnia, Mehmed later moved and grew up in Germany. He has lived in Chicago the last several years. This is his second IM norm. We are pleased to have Pasalic as a member of the Blaze where he will likely be a 2nd/3rd board (and kick some serious butt).

One of the things that really impressed me about him is Pasalic's humility. I recall watching a game between Dr. Mark Sefcheck (a 1700 player) and Pasalic last year at the US Open. Sefcheck played a fine game, and even had Pasalic on the ropes for a time before losing. After the game, Pasalic was gracious enough to show Sefcheck a positional rook sacrifice that was winning while complimenting his play. Sefcheck left feeling very good despite the loss. It was obvious that this game was not Mehmed's finest performance, but his kindness and sportsmanship were noteworthy. More players of all ratings should behave this way.

Also noteworthy is the fact that this marked the 8th FIDE IM or GM norm generated by the hard work of Sevan Muradian's norm bearing round robins. Previously Ben Finegold (2nd) Pascal Charbonneau (3rd) Giorgi Margvelashvili (1st) have scored GM norms, and Ray Robson, Jan Van DeMortel, Tansel Turgut, and Memed Pasalic (1,2) have scored IM norms. Sevan's monthly events are something to look forward to in Illinois chess, and can be followed on the Monroi website.


Monday, March 24, 2008


One of the things that many TDs do during downtime at tournaments is to discuss rulings that occur. Partially, this is because we are nosy by nature, but I prefer to thing that we are trying to hone our craft. I was listening to some of the calls that came up to TDs at our recent IL K-8 Championships. Here are a few that came up.

1. Parent complains that the rating used was from the March supplement instead of the more up to date MSA rating. The parent is wrong for making this complaint! First, the ratings do not become "official" until they are part of a supplement. This gives time for the events to be submitted in a timely fashion, and allows for errors in the system such as wrong IDs being submitted to be corrected. Presumably the parent thought that they would gain some advantage in pairings or tiebreaks for their child. Truth is, a higher rating is irrelevent for getting better pairings or tiebreaks. They may end up with worse pairings or tiebreaks or it could even be neutral.

2.A coach alerted the TDs that teammates were paired in round 6, and that could potentially hurt the team score thus being unfair. It turned out that this was because 4 of the 5 perfect scores in that section were from the same school (a nice problem to have). Newsflash to the coach, if you have 4 players who are perfect going into round 6, you are probably going to win the team prize. This is still an individual game, and breaking scoregroup to pair all these players against kids from other teams is not fair to the kids in the other scoregroup.

3. Complaint that error in who won a game would not be corrected for the scores but only for rating purposes. Sometimes coaches or parents do not want to take responsibility for checking the standings after every round. This is very important because entry errors do happen (either by us TDs, or players). If a player who won a game, but was marked as a loss in round 2 comes up after round 7 finishes complaining that he was shorted a point, they are stuck. It would be unfair to others to allow this player to benefit by easier pairings for 5 rounds because they did not check out the standings.

4. This one was the most disturbing dispute from that weekend. On a top board in the 2nd-3rd grade section, a player shows up 5 minutes late with his father demanding the time being restored to the clock. The opponent calls for a TD as he should. After a heated argument with TDs, and both sets of parents, 2 of the 5 minutes are restored to the clock. This was an atrocious call on several levels. Why? First, there are plenty of reasons to keep the time off the clock since the player started the clock following the TDs instruction. There are even a few possible reasons to put all the time back on the clock, such as the player's game ended late and asked permission for a late start (I do not believe this was the case). There are no acceptable reasons to put some of the time back on the clock. This was a weak ruling by a TD aiming to please everyone. Now for the reason that the ruling was truly horrific:

The TD allowed a severe argument by adults to take place in front of a couple of 7 year olds. This is more likely to have an impact of the game than 2 or 5 minutes would have. The correct ruling, is to kick the parents or coaches butts off the floor explaining that spectators have no rights and that the TD will resolve it with the players. That way, no child gets intimidated by an angry screaming adult.

EDIT: For those of you reading that may check the MSA to see who the TD was in this case, let me say that it was not Colley Kitson who was listed as the section chief. Colley is too good a TD for that to happen under his watch.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Back from Arizona

While there was a lot of action this past weekend, I was no where near any of it. Andrea allowed me the wonderful anniversary present of going to Arizona for spring training to hang out with the boys and watch plenty of baseball. I would have loved to find some Arizona Scorpions (USCL team) members to talk a little Blaze trash to in advance of our own season opener, but they must have been hiding under a rock or something.

It sounds as though the IL K-8 ran as well as can be expected, though I have heard many a complaint about the tiny nature of the trophies. I know when I ran the All Grade, I received one complaint about the quality of the trophies, a parent told me that their son's trophies were broken in the first 10 minutes, and I needed to buy better quality awards. I asked him how they were broken, and without even a blush, the father told me that the kids had been sword fighting with them. Idiot! Though in this case I have to say, that if you are charging $35 a head for a trophy event, you better have some decent sized awards. Does anyone happen to know the height of any of these awards? For the All Grade I remember that the 1st place trophies were 36" tall.

I am still looking forward to hearing about the Karpov outing, if anyone has any stories about it please post.

We are two weeks away from the National JH tournament in Dallas. This kicks off the spring national season. Today I found out that I will be the section chief of the K-8 championship section which is a nice honor. I hope that we get a great turnout there, and that people realize that despite the name of the event, it is open to elementary school kids and a great experience.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Last weekend was an exciting one for chess in the midwest.

First, let me congratulate Peter Spizzirri and the rest of Cary contingent for a spectacular result at the US Junior Chess Congress in Anderson, IN. Cary won the championship in two separate divisions. The turnout was also a record number, nice to see.

Congratulations also go out to Chris Baumgartner for his successful FIDE event in Wisconsin last weekend. Chris, the great thing about having a well run event, is that we next event will be easier to build upon that success.

This weekend brings us the IL State K-8 championships in Glenview, as of yesterday, there are 657 players registered. The Wisconsin K-8 is this same weekend in Oshkosh, and has roughly half that amount of players so far.

Mikhail Korenman also has brought former World Champion Anatoly Karpov to town this weekend just down the street from the state K-8. This is a great opportunity for adults or kids to meet a chess legend.


Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Chance to build something

As I scan the internet for chess content, it occurs to me how much negativity surrounds our game. On blogs, websites, newspapers, the USCF forums (don't even get me started there), even in clubs. I know I am as guilty of this as anyone.

Well today, I would like to build something, and if you would like to grow something positive, I would like your help with it. Here is the idea, when I was a scholastic player, once a year there was a clinic put on by Larry Stilwell and Proviso West HS. This clinic welcomed scholastic players to sit in on free lectures and lessons by instructors, and was followed by a free tournament. I would like to bring this back.

Let me explain how this can help the chess community. First, a free rated tournament and free lectures are easy to understand the benefit for our young players. Next, if you are in individual that is looking for students, or a teaching vendor looking to grow, you could certainly benefit by being in front of 100-150 potential students. If the ICA helps with volunteers for the event, we could make ICA membership be a condition of the free entry. I think that a full day of tournament games and lessons more than makes up for the $10 ICA junior membership. So this benefits the entire community.
How can we do this? Here is what is needed, and if you see something that you can do, or would like to help please post on this.

1. We need to get a site that is low cost (or better yet, free).
2. We need instructors to teach. (NM Jon Burgess has already generously volunteered to donate his time).
3. I will volunteer my time to TD the tournament and donate the rating fee.
4. We could also use some prize donations.
5. Finally, we could use help promoting the event.

I would hope to hold this event in October as the scholastic season gets into swing.



Friday, February 29, 2008

Notes from the week

First let's start off with congratulations to Ben Rothschild and Michael Auger for their performances in the ICCA state HS individual championships held last weekend at Lincoln-Way HS. Ben won 1st place at the event, and since he has already qualified by rating for the Denker tournament, that honor goes to Michael Auger who finished 2nd.

I would have liked to stop by that tournament personally but with directing a scholastic event at St. Mary's in Mokena Friday evening, and the 150 player Kumbaya event on Sunday, that was enough chess for the weekend.

Another new blogger has joined the arena, Sevan Muradian's new blog is focusing on what goes into organizing a well run event. This will be not only useful for the aspiring organizer, but also to players who don't see all the work that goes into an event and why an organizer does something one way vs another.

Sevan's blog is a little similar to the essay I am working on for how to direct a well run scholastic event. This probably will be about an 8-10 page document when I am finished, and if anyone has a desire for a topic on this to be addressed, give me a shout.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Chess from this weekend

This weekend there few a few important events in the area. On Saturday we held our monthly Orland Park Scholastic tournament which drew 44 players. I know that seems small for a Chicago area scholastic, but considering our very first event last year drew 6 players, we have come a very long way. That has inspired us to add a rated section for the very first time for our final event of the school year in May. It will be the South Suburban Scholastic Championships on May 17th, and we are hoping to break 100 players which would be a tremendous milestone.

The US Amateur team North is taking place this weekend as well in Milwaukee. It is nice to see the event move around and I commend Alex Betaneli and others for bringing the event there. I am disappointed to see so few Illinois teams make the short travel up 94. With so few adult events going on, it is important to support them. 20 teams playing has to be a mild disappointment, as is the relative strength or lack thereof. Only one team has an average rating over 2000, and that teams talented junior 4th board would be the first board on probably more than half of those teams. I really look forward to hearing some stories and anecdotes from this tournament as it tends to be one of the most social ones out there, and TD Guy Hoffman is generally good for a few stories himself.

Also starting this weekend is the latest NACA norm bearing FIDE tournament, which can be followed either on Monroi or the NAChess site. I will go out on a limb and predict this will be the event that Blaze member and FM Mehmed Pasalic gets another IM norm.

I will try to stop by this tournament before it ends, and with a Friday night scholastic, and the Kumbaya next Sunday, I will try to blog a couple of times this week.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

IHSA Championships

This weekend the IHSA team championships were held in Peoria, IL, and were attended by 118 teams and over 1000 players. As a side note, the "record breaking" scholastics in NY which were featured on the front page of the USCF site only had 820 players.

From the accounts I have heard, several things were made clear. It was a wonderfully run event run by Mike Zacate, Chris Merli, Walter Brown, and Garrett Scott among others. Complete results can be found on the website.

Among the notable results, Stevenson HS of Lincolnshire was the surprise winner and the only undefeated team. The Stevenson program will likely be a strong team for the forseeable future due to the efforts of Dave Monatelli and Ken Wallach who are teaching at feeder schools to Stevenson.

Frankie Swindell became the first player in recent memory to win the top board prize in back to back years.

EDIT: Ironically the aforementioned Ken Wallach also won the top board prize playing for Stevenson in back to back years. We won't embarrass Ken by discussing which years that was.

Cary HS had a remarkable run beating 3 top 10 teams on a way to 5-2 result. In other reportings of the event much of the credit for Cary's success has gone to GM Yuri Shulman, who also has done great work with Barrington HS (another top 10 finisher). And while Yuri has helped the Cary program, to me the success of the program is due to Peter Spizzari, who has opened his home to studies and tirelessly brought this team to National eventsto prepare them.

People looking at the results may have noticed quite a few 10 point penalties that were assessed, these were by and large the result of cell phones going of by the players (or in some cases coaches).

There are also a couple of good threads on this event on the ICA forum

Apparently, there was a Monster truck rally going on at the same location making for one of the more bizarre combinations of site sharing I have seen with a chess tournament. Other strange events to be located at the same hotel or convention center with a tournament have been Body building championships (at one of the Atlanta Nationals), High Caliber Gun Show (K-12 in houston), Midwest Polka Festival (US Open '89), Star Trek Convention (quite a few players attending both events US Open '94).

I may comment on some of the points made in Vince Hart's posts on the ICA forum later.


Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Ask TD Glenn

Todayon the USCF site, the player that I am most often mistaken for is asked about insufficient losing chances claims. This type of rules question is perhaps the most difficult situation to answer for a TD. I would equate it to making a charging vs. blocking call in basketball, as the decision must be made quickly, one side will be unhappy with the answer, and it is a difficult call.

It is interesting that the best comment on this question (10 comments at the time I write this) was made by a suspended TD. Let's look at how this happened and the claim that was made. First the player in time pressure makes an insufficient losing chances claim. Remember that this is the claim that must be made as a player cannot just ask for a time delay clock. I am assuming from what was posed in the question that Igor declined the draw offer (which this claim automatically is) and elected to play on.

As stated by others the TD can 1. Rule the game a draw (obviously incorrect in this case), 2. Defer the decision (which Joel claims would be correct), 3. Deny the claim, with or without a time penalty, or 4. elect to add a time delay clock to the game.

This is the type of decision that must be made quickly. Otherwise, if a TD tries to analyze the position for a few minutes to determine that there are no losing chances that time can be used by the player to work out his next several moves giving him free time to think. For even a fairly strong player who is directing (which I probably qualify as), it is rather difficult to make a decision on a position in 30 seconds in which the players have played perhaps for hours. Deferring the decision is a dangerous call because it assumes that the TD will not be called to rule on a different game, be distracted by other duties, or will be able to react before a flag fall occurs.

The safest call is to let the players decide the game by adding the clock. If the claimant has no losing chances, with the delay he should easily be able to prove it. If the other player thinks they are actually losing, he or she should accept the draw. The game gets decided over the board by the players rather than by a director, which is how it should be.

If you were the TD would you have ruled differently, and why?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Upcoming Big Scholastics

This week I received invitations to direct at 2 of the spring National Scholastic events, the National Elementary in Pittsburgh in April and the National Junior HS in Dallas in May. Hopefully I will get to see many of you at those events. The National Elementary has the good fortune of Bill Snead being the chief TD which assures a well run event. I have worked with Bill at many National Opens, and what amazes me the most about him is the level of organization that he brings with him. After once seeing his collapsable files, I asked him what he needed that for at a tournament. He proceeded to pull out 34 fully printed pages detailing everything imaginable (and somethings that weren't) at the event. He is real good. The National HS will have Franc Guadalupe, who like Bill is a total pro that I try to learn from each time I work with.

I noticed a thread on the USCF forums about the National G/60 and G/30 events taking place in June. In this thread, there were a few people critical of the price of the entry fees. Having had to negotiate with hotels and schools lately for space, I can tell you that it is one of the least fun activities for any organizer. In organizing the All Grade, after getting a firm quote from the school in December, I received the bid in January, and went to sign contracts. When I saw the contract, the price had gone up over $2000 from the price I had received a month earlier. This moved the break even point for the event to need 100 additional players. It is brutal out there folks, and that is dealing with a school. If you had a hotel wouldn't you rather host a wedding in your space rather than a chess tournament? The hotel will make more money in hotel room nights, food sales, alcohol sales, in less time, and have less cleanup with the wedding. Hosting a chess tournament in a hotel is not an easy sale.

Noteworthy is a new entry to the chess blogosphere. Hikaru Nakamura is blogging at It is wonderful seeing such a talented and creative player explaining his games and ideas. Hopefully this will give him a chance to practice some social skills which a severely lacking in his personality.


Friday, January 25, 2008

Friday Night Update

This past week was a lost one in the Panner household as we all succumbed to a flu bug. Now that I am back somewhat healthy, I figure it is time to comment on some of the chess things that occurred over the last week.

I realize the year is less than a month old so far, but Topalov-Kramnik at the Corus tournament had to have been the game of the year thus far.

I probably should mention something about Fischer's death, but honestly, I am so tired of seeing debates on Fischer. Like any player, yes I respect his games. I think he also did a fair share of setting the game back with his actions and it pains me to see so many apologists for him. My least favorite topic when I teach chess is when the occasional student asks about what Fischer is doing and why he doesn't play any more after I show one of his games. Now at least there is an easily understood answer suitable for telling school kids.

It is interesting that even in fall 2007 Iceland was seriously courting Karpov to come for a match against Fischer to take place. Plans actually were derailed by Fischer's illness. That would have been worth watching.

The NACA IM norm bearing round robin is now just a couple of rounds from finishing up with both Dr. Tansel Turgut and Mehmed Pasalic in contention for IM norms. The chess has been hard fought this last week though with a fair share of minor blemishes. These events are one of the few occasions our master level players get to try to achieve international titles without having to travel abroad. Invitations to this type of event is an honor, so when I see things like what happened this week transpire, it really ticks me off.

Bill Calton and Tom Bartell both withdrew from the event. Withdrawing from a RR is significantly different than from a swiss. In a RR event, if a player drops before completing half of their games, their score does not count at all, so a player could conceivably lose a NORM chance because someone drops out too early (even if you already played them). It also isn't fair to drop for the spirit of the event and is considered in very poor taste. Having organized events like this, I can tell you that it is MUCH easier to run a 200 player swiss than have to deal with a 10 player round robin. If I were Sevan, not only would I not invite either of these guys back, but would also warn the other organizers against inviting such tools to their event.


Saturday, January 19, 2008

2008 Colias Memorial

The 4th Billy Colias memorial tournament will be held August 1-3 at Joliet Junior College. This year we will be expanding it a little by adding 2 sections.

The format of the top 2 sections will remain the same. 6 player Round robin consisting of masters with a couple of strong experts perhaps sprinkled in.

Section 3 will be a juniors vs Experts/A players type section, with the winner in addition to a monetary prize will get an invitation to play in one of the 2009 Colias top sections.

Section 4 will be a section for class players. Right now I am thinking for ratings between 1400-1750 or so, but if there is great interest, I can entertain adding an additional section. There aren't many RR events for class players, where you get time to prepare for your opponents.

More details will be put together over the next few weeks. But, if you have interest in participating, please drop me a line and I will make my best effort to get you in.


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

2008 Illinois All Grade

It is with great pleasure I get to announce that the Illinois Chess Association has awarded the bid for the 2008 Illinois All Grade to Chess Central, the bid organized by Tim Just and myself. We will have complete information up on a website before long, but here is what I can say:

The event will take place Saturday November 15th at Oakton Community College in DesPlaines. The tournament will be capped at 600 players due to space limitations. The early EF will be $25, and there will be a bookseller. Volunteers are welcome.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Friday Tidbits

The Chicago Blaze got very good news this week with the announcement that GM Yuri Shulman and IM Jan Van DeMortel agreed to play on our team. Now the trick becomes balancing the roster to fit our lineups under the 2400 cap. I probably won't announce any other roster appointments for a few months while watching the ratings fluctuate. It makes me kind of feel like Willy Wonka, passing out the golden tickets.

There should be announcements coming on the dates and format for the 2008 Colias forthcoming next week. As a teaser, it will be at Joliet Junior College, and there will be additional sections, including one for class players.

One of the chess highlights of this winter for me was slated to be the International chess convention this weekend in Oak Brook. Unfortunately Karpov will not be attending due to visa problems. The event still should be great as Shulman and Onischuk are two of the best communicators of the GMs that I have ever met. I do wonder though out of frustration, why, when you know you will be traveling somewhere wouldn't you apply for the visa earlier?

CPS named a new Chess coordinator, Darren Osborne. Since he appears nowhere in the USCF database, I am guessing that he is a golf person rather than being a chess person, as his position governs over both.


Friday, January 4, 2008

What about Illinois?

Last month, I had the privilige to be on staff for the National K-12 championships that took place in Houston. The coverage of this event at USChess seemed to center around which was the dominant area in scholastic chess, New York or Texas, and while I am not knocking the strength of those states, it poses the question, are we here in IL not relevant?

The K12 had a rather weak turnout in numbers for Illinois so team results were depressed. However if one were to look at the NYA just 3 weeks earlier, Illinois dominated the team standings. Now I am not saying that Illinois deserves to be known as the top dog scholastically, but we should be entered into the discussion.

I happened to look at the top 100 list for USCF ratings with ages 7 and under (I could have looked at other ages too, but just wanted to get a quick confirmation of how we stack up):

New York 17 players
California 14 players
Illinois 13 players
Texas 12 players

So what are the next steps needed to take to develop more talents onto the National stage? Is this a goal of chess coaches in the area to get players on the top 100 lists for their ages? Should it be?